Libya rebels to deport detained Frenchmen soon

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Libyan rebels said Friday they will soon deport four Frenchmen they have been holding in their stronghold of Benghazi since May 11 after arresting them on suspicion of spying.

"The investigation is ongoing and they have not yet been deported. But they will be deported soon," Jalal al-Gallali, spokesman for the rebels' provisional administration, the National Transitional Council, told AFP.

He said the four would be handed over to the French consular authorities in Egypt.

The four were arrested and a fifth Frenchman, ex-paratrooper Pierre Marziali, "accidently" shot dead by the rebels in a murky incident at a checkpoint.

Marziali was the founder of private security firm Secopex which had opened an office in Benghazi and his four companions were also working for the firm.

The rebels accuse the five men of threatening the security of Libya and spying for Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi. They charge that the five were not private security contractors but were in Benghazi to sabotage the uprising against Kadhafi.

Secopex Vice President Robert Dulas has dismissed the accusations of espionage, insisting that the French authorities and the rebels were aware of the company's activities in Libya.

Paris's envoy in Benghazi, Antoine Sivan, met the four last Saturday.

© 2011 AFP

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