The Libyan government released four foreign journalists on Wednesday after holding them for several weeks for illegally entering the country. They were each given a one-year suspended sentence and fined 200 dinars.
REUTERS - Libya freed four foreign reporters on Wednesday who had been charged with entering the country illegally and said it was hard for its army to distinguish between journalists and people working with rebels.
U.S. reporters Clare Gillis and James Foley, Spanish photographer Manu Brabo and British journalist Nigel Chandler were brought in front of other reporters at a news conference.
The four, who appeared tired but otherwise healthy, only spoke to confirm their names before retreating to a side room in the Tripoli hotel. They were given a one-year suspended jail sentence and each fined 200 dinars.
Spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said they could stay in Tripoli and keep reporting or be escorted to the Tunisian border.
Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi detained Brabo, Foley and Gillis on April 5 when they were reporting near the eastern oil town of Brega.
"This is war time," Ibrahim said. "We know that there are foreign, special, European army experts fighting with the rebels so the army do not know immediately that these people are journalists, that they are harmless."
"If anyone was mistreated then we extend our apologies."
Ibrahim said he had no information on another journalist, South African Anton Hammerli, who has been reported missing.
Date created : 2011-05-18