NNA – An American among several believed held by Huthis in Yemen was freed and receiving treatment Tuesday in neighboring Oman, which has been hosting talks between Washington and the Iran-backed Shiite rebels.
A diplomat in Muscat said the talks between the Americans and the Huthis were aimed at promoting a proposed peace conference in Geneva, which the United Nations has so far failed to persuade the warring parties to attend.
But the State Department said only that Anne Patterson, the top U.S. official for Near East affairs, was in Oman for discussions “about many issues”.
News of the release of American journalist Casey Coombs came as Omani state media reported that a Singaporean had also arrived in the sultanate on his way home.
“I can… confirm that U.S. citizen Casey Coombs has departed Yemen and has arrived safely in Muscat,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.
“He is in stable condition. The U.S. ambassador and a consular official met him at the airport upon his arrival and are providing all possible consular assistance.”
Pictures released by Oman’s official ONA news agency showed Coombs being stretchered into an ambulance with a brace around his head.
“We are grateful to the government of Oman and personally to Sultan Qaboos for assisting with the safe passage of a U.S. citizen to Oman,” said Harf.
Coombs, who had been working as a freelance journalist in Yemen since 2012, writing for publications including Time magazine and The Intercept, had been held by the Huthis for two weeks, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
The rebels have controlled the capital since September and have seized much of the rest of the country despite a Saudi-led bombing campaign launched in March in support of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
The journalist’s detention by the Huthis had been kept under wraps at the request of his family.
In an article he wrote for The Intercept last month, he said he had been trying to leave the country, but was struggling to find a safe route out amid the fighting.
The United States said at the weekend it was working to secure the release of “several U.S. citizens” held in Yemen.–AFP