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Adrian Troy grateful for support in Eritrea deal

Pearl skipper grateful for support in Africa deal

Flip Prior and Steve Pennells, The West Australian June 16, 2011

The West Australian

Broome skipper Adrian Troy has thanked friends and supporters for backing him during the six months he was held captive in East Africa, accused of being a spy.

Mr Troy is recovering in England after being released suddenly from an Eritrean prison at the weekend.

He was one of four men accused of entering the country's waters with a cache of weapons and held in jail for six months, during which time diplomats were refused access to him.

"I cannot tell you how grateful I am for all of your support during my time detained in Eritrea," he wrote in a message on a Facebook site set up in his support.

"It is truly awesome and I thank each and every one of you. It really did make a difference as the world, and particularly our Eritrean friends, could see that I am a regular guy with fantastic friends and family. This really did play its part in the overall bid to be set free."

Mr Troy is expected to spend the next two weeks in Britain before returning home to Broome.

A former British soldier and dual Australian-British citizen, Mr Troy has been working in the WA pearling industry for 15 years.

After sailing a pearling boat to Thailand for a major refit last year, he took part-time work with a British private security firm Protection Vessels International, which is involved in anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.

He was arrested in late December after refuelling his boat, Sea Scorpion, in Port Massawa while bound for Djibouti.

The Eritreans accused Mr Troy and his colleagues, including two former British marines, of disguising themselves as tourists, entering the territory with a cache of weapons and trying to flee without paying.

Until a few days ago, they had not been seen or heard from for six months and repeated attempts by the British and Australian governments for consular access had failed.

In a statement issued last week, the Eritrean Government claimed "all the British nationals in detention … fully admitted they have committed a crime".

It said the men regretted trying to escape from the port of Massawa, where there was an apparent dispute about payment for fuel and supplies.

It also claimed the men "bear accountability" for "acts of invasion, organising terrorism and espionage".



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