:`Spy' Britons freed in Eritrea

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A British couple arrested and held for 17 days on suspicion of spying in Eritrea were released yesterday after finally convincing the authorities of their innocence.

Peter Billing, 64, and his wife Shirley, 61, of Wokingham, Berkshire, left Britain in 1983 for a round-the-world yacht voyage. They were arrested at gunpoint on board their 35ft ketch Clypaeus on 19 March and taken to a military camp where they were held in a hut and feared that they might be executed. They were then flown to the capital, Asmara, where they were detained in a hotel, but yesterday the Eritrean government told them they were free to leave.