French hostage in Yemen freed after more than 4 months
PARIS (AP) — France’s president on Tuesday announced the release of a French citizen held hostage in Yemen for more than four months.
President Emmanuel Macron congratulated all those who contributed to the release of Alain Goma, who will be back in France soon.
French media reported that the 54-year-old Goma was on a sailing trip when damage on the ship forced him to dock in a Yemeni port of Hodeida in June, where he was held by rebels.
Yemen has been locked in a ruinous war pitting a Saudi-led coalition backing the government against Shiite rebels known as Houthis since March 2015.
Yemeni security officials said the Houthis released Goma from a prison in the capital, Sanaa, which is under rebel control.
They said the release came after “intensive” talks between France’s envoy to Yemen and Houthi leaders in Sanaa. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
Macron said he’s grateful to Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said and Omani authorities for their “decisive” role.
Oman, which has warm relations with most countries in the region, including Iran, has often served as a mediator in high-stakes negotiations, including previous prisoner releases as well as the initial talks that eventually led to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.
Macron also thanked Saudi authorities for their help.
Goma’s family members had last month made the situation of Goma public in French media so that he wouldn’t become a “forgotten hostage.”
An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has produced what the U.N. says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Associated Press writer Ahmed al-Haj in Sanaa, Yemen contributed to the story.