American teacher detained in Libya for six weeks returns to US

A teacher has successfully returned to the United States after being stuck in Libya for over six weeks, after being detained on two occasions.

As CNN reports, Fernando Espinoza landed at New York City’s John F. Kennedy airport on Monday afternoon, where he was warmly greeted by his mother, Sara Espinoza.

Executives from the Richardson Center, a non-profit that helped expedite the 29-year-old’s safe return, were also present. The organisation were instrumental in the decision of the Libyan foreign minister to personally intervene in Mr Espinosa’s case.

“I obviously made some mistakes, but multiple other parties made several mistakes as well, and it all just snowballed,” Mr Espinoza told CNN from the car on the way to his hotel.

“I’m just feeling happy and grateful that he’s back and that this didn’t last as long as it could have lasted,” his mother added.

It signals the conclusion of a worrying chapter for both son and mother, as he was being held in Libya with little information being relayed to his family back in the US.

Mr Espinoza, a former US Navy submariner, told Libyan officials that he had not received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine upon arrival. According to the state’s foreign minister, Murad Hamaima, the teacher couldn’t be deported until he had been fully vaccinated – and the vaccine was subsequently administered to him.

The American would eventually fly back to JFK on Monday morning, by way of Cairo, but only after showing proof of a negative PCR test. Mr Espinoza initially arrived in Libya back in early October, where he was set to start a new job teaching English at an international school in Tripoli.

Fernando Espinosa and his mother, Sara

However, messages sent to his mother show that he was soon detained after taking a weekend trip to Gaberoun oasis. Upon release, he was once again arrested when he returned to his temporary home of Tripoli, this time for “violating his visa limitation”, as per CNN.

This led to a race against time for Ms Espinoza to try and secure her son’s release, ahead of a potentially destabilising presidential election in Libya. As fate would have it, the postponement of said election until January, alongside the intervention of the Richardson Center (who helped negotiate his release), conspired to resolve the situation before the end of the year.

The Richardson Center has issued a warning in the wake of Mr Espinoza’s detention, which they believe shows how vital is it for travellers to be aware of local laws and conditions.


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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