18 Italian fishermen, who remained in detention in Libya’s Benghazi for three months, were freed on Thursday, the Italian Foreign Ministry said.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio flew to Benghazi in eastern Libya for the liberation of the Sicilian fishermen, who were captured on the charges of trespassing Libyan waters.
According to the Italian Foreign Ministry, the UN had been directly involved in finding a solution for the seafarers’ release.
“Our fishermen are free,” Di Maio wrote in a Facebook post, adding: “In a few hours, they will be able to embrace their families and relatives.”
In earlier attempts by Italy to broker a release deal with Haftar, he offered to release the men in exchange for Italy freeing four Libyan footballers convicted of human trafficking. It’s unclear what Haftar got in return for freeing the fishermen.