Oman says US man detained in rebel-held Yemeni capital freed

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A U.S. man held captive in Yemen’s rebel-controlled capital has been released after Omani negotiators interceded on his behalf, authorities said, becoming the latest American freed through the sultanate’s quiet diplomacy.

In a statement posted online late Friday, Oman’s Foreign Ministry said it helped coordinate “the release of an American citizen in Yemen” on behalf of the U.S. and on the orders of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said. It said it contacted authorities in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, Sanaa, to free the man, who was flown from Sanaa to the Omani capital, Muscat.

The short statement did not identify the man released. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Muscat did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said U.S. diplomats were aware of the report of an American freed, but declined to comment due to privacy concerns.

The sultanate of Oman has played a part in several negotiations for Americans held in Yemen, where a Saudi-led and U.S.-backed coalition has been at war with the Shiite Houthi rebels for more than a year. Oman, which has long positioned itself as a mediator in the region, did not join the Saudi coalition.

In November, three Americans were released and flown out of Yemen. In September, the Houthis released six foreign hostages, including two Americans, after negotiations conducted by Omani officials. That came after the release in June of American freelance journalist Casey Coombs.

On Nov. 10, U.S. officials announced that detained American contractor John Hamen, who worked for a company managing U.N. facilities in Sanaa, had died there, without giving a cause of death. Hamen and another American had arrived in Yemen from Djibouti on a U.N. aircraft on Oct. 20.


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