CAIRO: Five Egyptian fishermen detained in breakaway northern Cyprus have been freed, Egypt’s foreign ministry said Friday, after diplomatic protests against their arrest by Turkish forces.
A court in the northern city of Kyrenia fined the five fishermen 500 euros each and allowed them to leave with their boat, Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Greek-Cypriot company that owns the boat paid the fines, the ministry added.
The boat is scheduled to arrive at the southern port of Limassol in the Republic of Cyprus on Saturday, the statement said.
Personnel on board a Turkish military vessel arrested the five fishermen on September 21 and towed their boat to Kyrenia, the Cyprus News Agency said, citing the boat owner.
Turkish Cypriot media said the fishermen were arrested for straying into Turkish-controlled waters, 14 kilometers off the island’s north coast.
The Cypriot government said it had protested to the United Nations over the detention of the Cypriot flagged vessel and its crew.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-sponsored military coup seeking to unite the Mediterranean island with Greece.
Turkey is the only country to recognize the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, while the rest of the island is a European Union member state.
Turkey has long maintained as many as 35,000 troops in the breakaway north although the military does not give official figures.