32 Egyptians return home after release from Libyan prison

Thirty-two Egyptians will return to Egypt today having been released from Libya's most notorious prison, Abu Salim, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced.

They were released 10 days ago thanks to high-level contacts between Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and Libyan authorities before and after the collapse of Muammar Qadhafi's regime, the ministry said.

A tour of the prison last week by Al-Masry Al-Youm reporters found that citizens had freed its abandoned inmates after the Libyan capital, Tripoli, fell to anti-regime rebels.

On Monday, Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Amr Rushdy, attributed the difficulties in repatriating Egyptian refugees from Libya in recent days to the unstable security situation on the roads connecting the two countries and the closure of Libyan airports and seaports.

Rushdy added that the Egyptian consulate in Libya hosted the released prisoners at its own expense until their departure, and funded their travel to their homes in Egypt.

He said that communication with Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) resulted in an official Libyan letter acknowledging the detention of Egyptian nationals between March and August, thereby preserving their right to future compensation.

Efforts by Egypt's Foreign Ministry led to the release of another 32 Egyptians in August.

In 1996, 1270 inmates of Abu Salim prison are believed to have been massacred when they demanded better food and healthcare.

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