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Four members of a British television crew were released from prison in Liberia yesterday after authorities in Monrovia dropped spying charges against them.

Liberian President Charles Taylor said in a CNN interview that the Channel Four journalists and their employer had apologized to the nation.

"We have now decided to look at the appeal and the apology and to have them released immediately," Mr. Taylor said. "We are not expelling the journalists but they are free to leave whenever they want."

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The four men went immediately to Robertsfield airport outside the capital, Monrovia, where they were due to take a plane to Ivory Coast and on to Britain.

Britons David Barrie and Zimbabwean-born Timothy Lambon, South African Gugulakhe Radebe and Sierra Leonean Sorious Samura were arrested a week ago, accused of filming in areas where they were not permitted to work, trying to damage Liberia's image and falsely linking Mr. Taylor to diamond smuggling and gunrunning in neighbouring Sierra Leone's civil war. Reuters

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