Two British teenagers jailed in Ghana for drug smuggling were freed today after spending a year behind bars.
Yasemin Vatansever and Yatunde Diya, both 17 and from north London, were given 12-month sentences by a court in Accra after their arrests last July for cocaine trafficking.
They were released from a detention centre today and hope to return home to the UK at the weekend, legal charity Fair Trials International said.
Sabine Zanker, head of Fair Trials International's legal team, was in Ghana to meet the girls when they were freed just before 10am British time.
She said: "They are in very good spirits. They are very relieved but there was also some sadness in saying goodbye because they have been treated with extreme kindness.
"Of course they are very much looking forward to returning to the UK."
The pair were arrested on 2 July last year at Kotoka Airport in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.
Some 13lb (6kg) of cocaine - said to have a street value of about £300,000 - was found in two laptop computer bags in their luggage.
They claimed they did not know about the drugs, but were later convicted of attempting to traffic cocaine from Ghana to London.
The girls had hoped to be released in April as the Ghanaian prison authorities have the discretion to take three months off a 12-month sentence.
But only a few days before they expected to walk free, they were told they would have to serve their sentences in full.
Fair Trials International chief executive Catherine Wolthuizen criticised the failure to bring to justice the "real masterminds" behind the smuggling operation.
She said: "The girls have served their full sentences, but the men who groomed them and lured them to Ghana remain free to target other vulnerable young women.
"These men are known to the authorities but have never been prosecuted.
"The girls' experience sends an important warning to young people but the best protection against further cases of this nature is for the authorities to focus efforts on catching the big fish, not the small fry."
She added: "We are pleased the girls will be back with their families soon.
"We hope they will now be able to put this experience behind them and resume their normal lives away from the glare of publicity."Reuse content