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Britons detained in Eritrea freed

Four British men detained in Eritrea for more than five months with no consular access have been released, the Foreign Office has said.

The two ex-Marine guards and two civilian crew members, all of whom were working for security firm Protection Vessels International (PVI), are now understood to be on their way back to the UK.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are pleased that the four British nationals have now been able to leave Eritrea and can be reunited with family and friends. We are very grateful to the Government of the State of Qatar for helping facilitate their return.

"We remain concerned however that at no time did the Eritreans respond to our requests for consular access and will continue to raise this matter with them."

The Foreign Office had become aware of the situation on December 24 last year, she added.

The four men had been on board a merchant vessel that stopped at a port in the east African country to pick up supplies when they were detained. PVI said earlier this year that the detention of the men had arisen because of "confusion over fuel payments".

As part of efforts to secure the men's release, Foreign Secretary William Hague had ordered UK ambassadors around the world to raise concerns with their Eritrean counterparts.

The Foreign Office said they would not comment on any negotiations that led to the men's release.

The son of one of the detainees told The Independent that his family was "so relieved". Tom Sims, the son of Alun Sims, told the newspaper: "I'm more than happy to say that we are so relieved and a huge weight has been lifted. I can't wait to see him tomorrow as we have a lot of catching up to do."

Another of the men detained is thought to be Adrian Troy, a PVI guard with dual British and Australian citizenship.


From Belfast Telegraph