The South African Press Association (SAPA) said the Pretoria Regional Court dismissed the charges against the men, all South Africans, after a trial in which their lawyers argued that South Africa's government had tacitly backed the aborted 2004 coup attempt.

According to Reuters, South African officials denied the allegation, but the presiding judge said on Friday there was credible evidence the coup had been either sanctioned by South Africa or that the accused thought it was.

Judge Peet Johnson said testimony provided by a state witness indicated South Africa at least knew about the coup attempt beforehand.