No apologies, no promises made to secure air crew release

The Netherlands did not apologise or make any concessions to Libya in order to win the release of a three-strong helicopter crew, picked up during a botched rescue mission 12 days ago, defence minister Hans Hillen told a news conference.

The three, who were trying to rescue two stranded Europeans, arrived in Athens in the early hours of Friday morning and will return to the Netherlands later today or tomorrow.
They were flown to Athens by a Greek military plane along with a number of Greek nationals who were leaving Libya.
One of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam, had said late on Thursday the three would be released.
‘We have told them not to come back without our permission,’ he was quoted as saying by Nos television. ‘We picked up the first Nato troops and today we are sending them home. But we are keeping their helicopter.’
Hillen would not say much about the circumstances surrounding the release. ‘It was a capricious group to deal with,’ he said. ‘It was up and down, but then on Thursday it all went better.’
‘We did not have to apologies. There were no conditions,’ he said.
Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal told Nos radio on Friday morning no money had been paid to secure their release and no promises had been made.
Prime minister Mark Rutte said he was delighted at the news and thanked Greece and Malta for their role in ensuring the release.

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