Film crew returns home from Liberian jail

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The Independent Online

Four journalists accused of spying in Liberia arrived in the UK today after being freed in return for a letter of apology.

Four journalists accused of spying in Liberia arrived in the UK today after being freed in return for a letter of apology.

The group, who had been making a Channel 4 documentary, touched down at Heathrow airport at 8.23am on board an Air France flight via Paris.

The journalists left the west African country last night, after intense diplomatic efforts by the Foreign Office, former South African president Nelson Mandela and US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

Liberian president Charles Taylor said the crew, who were making a documentary for Channel 4 about Liberia's recovery from civil war, had not been pardoned but were freed on "humanitarian grounds".

The four men - Briton David Barrie, Zimbabwe-born Tim Lambon, who has dual South African and British nationality, Sierra Leonean Sorious Samura and South African Gugulakhe Radebe - were charged on Monday with conspiring to fabricate evidence implicating Mr Taylor's government in gun running and diamond smuggling in support of the RUF guerrillas of Sierra Leone. The charges carried a maximum penalty of death.

They issued a hand-written statement which read: "We wish to express our unreserved apology to both His Excellency the President of Liberia and the people of Liberia for any offence which our actions or statements have caused."

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