The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Libyan parallel government that is designated by the House of Representatives in eastern region launched an international campaign on Monday in solidarity with five Libyan men detained in Italy.

The Italian authorities arrested these five young men - football players - while they were trying to immigrate to Italy to complete their sports career, escaping the conditions of war and instability in Libya in 2015.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the parallel government confirmed that many organizations, political figures, and academic experts participating in the international forum on “Migration in the Mediterranean: Challenges and Opportunities,” which was held in the Moroccan city of Tangier, expressed their solidarity with the Libyans.

The participants called on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya to communicate urgently with the Italian authorities to release those five men, as they were sentenced to 30 years in prison in a trial that lacked justice, in the absence of defense lawyers.

It added that experts and members of human rights, political, and trade union organizations from Morocco, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Senegal, Cameroon, Tunisia, and Libya announced their intention to work jointly with all international human rights bodies to launch an international campaign of advocacy to defend the five men, under the slogan: “Migration for sports is not a crime.”

The Ministry renewed its call on the Italian authorities to release the young men, or hand them over to the Libyan authorities in accordance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

On December 6, 2015, an Italian court sentenced Libyan players to 30 years in prison on charges of “human trafficking and illegal immigration,” after immigrants who were with them on the boat accused them of cooperating and working with smugglers.