- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) - The crew of a renegade oil tanker seized by the U.S. Navy and handed over to Libya has been released and will be deported, a Libyan investigator said Monday.

Al-Sadik al-Sour, the head investigator for Libya’s prosecutor general, did not give the nationality of the 21 crew members. He said they were referred to border police Monday to send them out of the country.

Three eastern Libya militia members who were aboard the vessel will be detained for 14 days to be interrogated by prosecutors over their role in the saga.

Al-Sour said investigations revealed that the crew members were working at gunpoint, according to witnesses interrogated at the militia-held eastern port where the vessel was loaded with an estimated 350,000 barrels of oil.

The ship remains in Tripoli and is due to be unloaded in the port of Zawiya refinery, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Tripoli. It was originally North Korean-flagged, but North Korean officials say they have cancelled its registration.

U.S. Navy SEALs seized the Morning Glory last week in the eastern Mediterranean. It handed it to the Libyan navy, which escorted the tanker to Tripoli.

That operation brought an end to an attempt by a militia from eastern Libya to sell the crude in defiance of the central government in Tripoli.

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