American teacher detained in Libya for six weeks returns to U.S.

An American teacher who was detained in Libya for over six weeks returned to the U.S. on Monday. 

Fernando Espinoza arrived in New York on Monday and was welcomed by his mother and executives from the Richardson Center, the nonprofit that assisted with his return and has a track record of negotiating hostage and prisoner releases, CNN reported.

"I obviously made some mistakes, but multiple other parties made several mistakes as well, and it all just snowballed," the teacher said to CNN.


The 29-year-old former U.S. Navy submariner arrived in Libya in October and was detained while traveling to another part of the country for "violating the procedures and being in areas of tension without obtaining the permission," CNN added.

He was later released but was arrested again in November after he "violated his visa limitation" in addition to breaking his contract with the school and leaving without informing anyone of where he was going, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Murad Hamaima told CNN.

Hamaima, who personally intervened to ensure Espinoza’s release, previously rejected that Espinoza had been disappeared and said COVID-19 protocols prevented him from being deported sooner as officials intended. The Libyan government said Hamaima intervened in the situation "to preserve the strong Libyan-American relations," CNN noted.

A State Department spokesperson added that it would not go into specifics, citing privacy considerations, according to the outlet.