Freed Americans Returned From Yemen in Prisoner Swap
The White House on Wednesday announced the release of two American citizens held hostage in Yemen for several years, in what appears to be a triangular prison swap that included the release of some 240 of Yemen’s Houthi rebel group supporters held in neighboring Oman. According to an administration official quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Sandra Loli, a humanitarian worker seized three years ago, and Mikael Gidada, a businessman captured last year, were brought home along with the remains of a third American, Bilal Fateen. While the US didn’t expressly refer to the deal as a hostage exchange, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien did thank Saudi and Omani leaders “for their efforts” in facilitating the Americans’ release. According to Houthi officials, the 240 Yemenis released were detained for two years in Oman after having traveled there to receive medical treatment. The Houthis, an Iran-backed rebel group that overthrew the Sanaa government in an ongoing civil war, are battling a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf and Arab states looking to restore the previous regime.