LONDON, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Five British prisoners of war released by Russia as part of an exchange with Ukraine have arrived back in Britain and are looking forward to spending time with their families, non-profit organisation Presidium Network said on Thursday.

The five are Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, John Harding, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill.

Presidium Network, which does relief work in Ukraine including help with evacuations, said in a statement it was thankful to all parties who helped bring them back.

Aslin and Pinner were captured by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine’s coastal city of Mariupol in April and were sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine.

The Pinner family in a statement thanked everybody involved in his release including the British and Ukrainian governments.

“Shaun would also like to thank the hospitality of the Saudi Government and Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud who also assisted in the negotiations for his freedom,” the family said in the statement, provided by Britain’s Foreign Office.

“Shaun is in good spirits and still has his sense of humour intact.”

Aslin and Pinner, along with Moroccan Brahim Saadoun, were found guilty of “mercenary activities and committing actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order of the DPR” — a sentence condemned by Ukraine and Britain.

Healy, a Briton providing humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, was detained in April alongside Paul Urey, who later died in detention. Harding and Hill had been fighting alongside Ukrainian forces and all three had denied being mercenaries in the Russian proxy court.

Reporting by William James, Elizabeth Piper and Sachin Ravikumar, Editing by Gareth Jones and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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