Libyan rebels release 4 Frenchmen detained May 12

May 21, 2011 - 12:14 PM

PARIS (AP) — France's foreign ministry said Saturday that Libya's rebels have freed four Frenchmen working for a private security company who were detained at a rebel checkpoint earlier this month and accused of spying.

The four were detained at a checkpoint in Benghazi on May 12, in eastern Libya. At the time, a rebel commander accused them of spying.

The French government has been tightlipped about the circumstances surrounding the death of the fifth member of the group, Pierre Marziali, who was the head and the founder of the private security company, SECOPEX Conseil.

A rebel commander said Marziali was killed in an accidental discharge of a weapon as he was arguing over his team's arrest.

SECOPEX said its director was in Libya to set up a security guard service and a "secure corridor" on the road to Cairo.

The foreign ministry statement Saturday said the four were handed over to French consular officials at the Egyptian border.

A statement from the Libyan rebels' transitional government last week said the Frenchmen were ordered arrested for alleged "illicit activities that jeopardized the security of free Libya."