Sudan frees British journalist detained in Darfur

He was still in Khartoum on Thursday but plans were under way to reunite him with his family in Britain.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

"We are pleased that British journalist Phil Cox has been released after being held in custody in Sudan," embassy spokesman Ishtiaq Ghafoor told AFP.

"Our staff in Khartoum and London worked relentlessly to make sure his welfare was protected and his case was handled quickly and fairly."

Cox was handed over to the British embassy on Wednesday. He was still in Khartoum on Thursday but plans were under way to reunite him with his family in Britain, Ghafoor said.

His release came after British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Minister for Africa Tobias Ellwood raised the case with senior Sudanese officials, Ghafoor added.

Sudanese media reported that he had been granted a pardon by President Omar al-Bashir.

They said he had been detained in the North Darfur state capital of El-Fasher on January 21 for entering the country without a valid visa.

Cox has previously reported on the conflict in Darfur where ethnic minority rebels have been battling troops and allied militias since 2003.

At least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes, according to the United Nations.

Last month, a Sudanese court sentenced a Czech missionary to 24 years in jail on charges including entering the country without a valid visa.

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