British journalists accused of spying released in Libya

Two British journalists held in Libya after they were accused of spying have been released, the Foreign Office said.

Nicholas Davies-Jones and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson were held by a Libyan militia after their capture in Tripoli on 22 February.

Last week it was confirmed that the men, who had been working as freelancers with the Iranian state-owned Press TV, were transferred to the custody of the Libyan government.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said last night: “We welcome the release of the two British journalists who have recently been detained in Libya.

“Foreign Office officials are providing them with consular assistance which we have done throughout.

“The men are in the care of consular staff, they are well and look forward to being reunited with their families soon.”

The men were detained by the Misrata-based Saraya Swehli brigade, one of the dozens of militias which helped force out Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Melanie Gribble, the sister of Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, told BBC Radio 5 Live she has been through a “rollercoaster”.

“It is quite cliched but it really has been ups and downs all the way. One day you’d get a bit of positive news heading in the right direction, and then two or three days… where you just thought this is not going anywhere at all. It’s been a trial,” she said.

She said she had a phone call from her brother shortly after 9pm to say he had just arrived at the British embassy and was free.

During the call, she said he conveyed “how tired and weary and exhausted they were, that they were looking forward to coming home”.

Ms Gribble said she hoped her brother would return within the next 24 or 36 hours but that he had not known what the arrangements would be.

She joked that her family would not allow him to go back to Libya, but added: “I think it will not change his determination, his love of the job.”

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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