Tripoli-based government releases foreign airmen held in Libya

SHAFAQNA – Libya’s rival government released four air crew members from Ukraine, Russia and Tajikistan who had flown into the North African country from the United Arab Emirates without permission, officials said on Tuesday.

Seven crew members were detained on Nov. 14 for bringing in a “suspicious cargo” on behalf of the UAE, the Tripoli-based state news agency said. Libyan news websites close to the recognized government said the Airbus was delivering aid.

Libya has two governments and parliaments, dividing the country. The Tripoli-based government has not been recognized internationally but controls ministries and western areas.

The conflict has hampered supplies of food and medical aid to Libya’s remote south. The Tripoli-based government accuses the UAE and Egypt of helping the east militarily, something they deny.

Mohamed al-Ghirani, the rival government’s foreign minister, said the general prosecutor had ordered the release of the four, adding that he hoped the remaining three in detention would also be set free.

“We wish the released a safe return and merry Christmas,” he told reporters at a news conference where the four crew members were present. A Ukrainian consul at the event confirmed they had been released.

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