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U.S. journalist Salopek freed in Sudan

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EL FASHER, Sudan, Sep 9, 2006 (UPI via COMTEX) -- U.S. journalist Paul Salopek, jailed on spying charges in Sudan Aug. 6, was released from custody Saturday, officials said.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent -- on assignment for National Geographic in the war-torn Darfur region -- was freed with his two Chadian assistants, presidential press secretary Mahjoub Fadul Badry announced.

"The American journalist and the two Chadians have been released," he said.

Their release followed a meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who appealed for the release on humanitarian grounds, The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

Salopek, 44, a resident of New Mexico, along with Chadian driver Idriss Abdulraham Anu and interpreter Suleiman Abakar Moussa, were scheduled to go on trial Sunday for espionage, passing information illegally and printing false news, as well as entering the country without visas.

The men denied the espionage and other criminal charges, but Salopek acknowledged entering the country illegally, a civil violation.


Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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