American prisoner is released from Yemen

An American journalist held prisoner by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen has been freed and safely left the country, the State Department said on Monday.

Casey Coombs — a freelance journalist who wrote an essay about being “stuck in Yemen” in early May — had left the splintered Arab nation and had arrived in nearby Oman, according to State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

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“He is in stable condition," Harf added.

Coombs was met by the U.S. ambassador and another American official at the airport in the Oman capital of Muscat.

He had been reporting from Yemen for three years but had been trying to leave since an air campaign led by Saudi Arabia aimed at displacing the Houthi rebels began in late March, he said in his essay for the Intercept. Since then, he had been repeatedly blocked by the bombing, he wrote.

“I spend my days trying to find the rare place with electricity, where I can use the Internet or charge my phone,” Coombs wrote at the time. “At night, I listen as Saudi warplanes bomb the city. It’s a tedious ritual.”

At some point in mid-May, he appeared to have been taken prisoner by the Houthis.

He was one of four Americans whose captivity in Yemen was reported by the Washington Post last week. According to the newspaper, two of the other captives were working in the private sector, and the fourth — whose occupation was unknown — has joint citizenship with the U.S. and Yemen. 

A fifth American, Sharif Mobley, is under custody for terrorism-related charges brought in 2010, when he was snatched off the streets.