Two American citizens detained by Houthi rebels in Yemen have been released in Oman as part of an agreement negotiated by the US State Department.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said that consular officers from the US Embassy in Muscat, the capital of Oman, stood ready to provide all possible consular assistance.
“We are deeply grateful to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and the Government of Oman for their assistance in facilitating and supporting the release of our citizens,” Toner said in a statement. “We recognize the humanitarian gesture by the Houthis in releasing these US citizens.”
The US calls for the “immediate and unconditional” release of any other US citizens who may still be held, the spokesman added.
A Houthi official said on Saturday that his group released two US nationals detained in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on charges of espionage in a deal meditated by Oman in return for allowing a Houthi delegation to return home.
“We handed over the Americans to Omani authorities on Saturday … they will be airlifted through the same Omani plane that carried the national (Houthi delegation) and arrived in Sanaa at noon,” the official told Xinhua on the condition of anonymity.
He said that one of the Americans is an English teacher who was arrested on Sept. 21.
The Houthi delegation, which also includes delegates of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party, had been stranded in Muscat since August following the collapse of peace talks with the internationally-backed Yemeni government sponsored by the United Nations in Kuwait.