Nigeria releases 15 Russian sailors

Dec. 27, 2012 at 9:31 AM

LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Nigerian officials released 15 Russian sailors, who have been detained in Lagos without charges filed against them for two months in an arms investigation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the decision came after telephone conversations between Russian and Nigerian foreign ministers, ITAR-Tass reported Wednesday.

"The Russian Embassy in Nigeria, in cooperation with the ship's owner, [is] working on the technicalities of arranging for the sailors' flight back home," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Nigerian officials said the decision arose from the desire to "retain the friendly climate of bilateral relations with Russia and from humanitarian reasons."

Meanwhile, the ship -- the cargo vessel Myre Seadiver -- is at a Nigerian naval base pending the completion of an investigation, ITAR-Tass said.

"No official charges against the ship's owner or the crew have been brought to this day," the Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.

Nigerian officials seized the ship and crew Oct. 19, claiming it had an improperly declared cargo of firearms on board.

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