The phone call lasted only three minutes, but it gave Sara Espinoza the first proof in six weeks that her son is alive. Her voice was shaky, she said, almost unrecognizable from the confident comments she would post on YouTube about her travels abroad.
Towards the end, I guess when they told her the call had to end, she started crying,” she said.Her last words were: I’m sorry, but I have to go. And Merry Christmas. Fernando Espinoza, a 29-year-old American teacher and former US Navy submariner, disappeared in Libya on November 9, five weeks after arriving in the country to start a new job at an international school in Tripoli.
He had ventured south of the city for a weekend trip to a desert oasis, but on his return he was picked up for questioning. And the frequent text messages he sent to his mother stopped.Sara hoped to find her son and bring him home on Christmas Eve, the date of Libya’s first presidential election in a decade.
But days before the vote, the process collapsed, drawing the country closer to the conflict, as the warring parties seek to replace a government that will lose its mandate. Now Sara is more worried than ever. I am relieved to hear from him,” she said of Tuesday’s call, negotiated by the US embassy in Tunis and the Libyan authorities.
But I also feel very sad because I know that he is not well. My son never cries.” The US embassy told CNN after the call that the State Department was in charge of the inquiries. When asked by CNN about Fernando’s status, the State Department said they were “aware of the arrest of a US citizen in Libya.
We are monitoring the situation and due to privacy considerations, we will not go into details at this time,” an official said. After the publication of this story, Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Murad Hamaima told CNN that Fernando had been detained because his visa had expired and he had left the city without permission to travel to a dangerous area.
He violated his visa limitation, broke his contract with the school and left without telling anyone where he was going. I don’t think this is acceptable anywhere in the world,” Hamaima said. He said Libyan officials would have deported Fernando earlier, but when asked if he was fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Fernando said no, according to Hamaima. He then he said that they gave Fernando the first dose of it and were waiting the required time to administer the second. Back home in Miami, Sara doesn’t know what to believe, and she has spent the past six weeks perusing the details of her son’s journey in hopes of bringing him home.