Libya has freed a three-member crew of a Dutch navy helicopter who were earlier captured by pro-government forces when they sought to evacuate civilians from the strife-torn nation.
One of Moammar Gaddafi’s sons announced their release; a few hours later the two Dutch men and one woman had arrived in Athens on a Greek military transport plane. The freed crewmembers were greeted there by a representative of the Dutch foreign ministry.
I am very happy, said the Dutchwoman, pilot Yvonne Niersman, after arriving in Athens.
According to ministry spokesman Christoph Prommersberger, she and her two fellow crewmembers seemed to be in good health.
Dutch Defense Minister Hans Hillen said the crew will be flown back to Holland and that they had been treated well and correctly during their captivity in Libya.
However, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said Libya will keep the crew's Lynx helicopter.
We told them, don't come back again without our permission” Saif said. We captured the first NATO soldiers, we are sending them back home. But we are still keeping their helicopter.
Libyan authorities earlier claimed that the Dutch navy crew entered the country without permission in violation of international laws.