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American hostage held in Yemen released

usa-flagWASHINGTON, D.C. – An American man held captive in Yemen for over 18 months has been released.

The U.S. State Department recognized reports of the release of Wallead Yusuf Pitts Luqman, a 37-year-old U.S. citizen, who had been detained in Yemen for more than a year and a half by Shiite rebels called the Houthis. Luqman had been teaching English in the Middle Eastern nation when he was abducted upon attempting to leave.

“My team and I have been focused on Wallead’s detention since the beginning, working closely with our partners in the region, and I have also been in direct contact with his family,” said Secretary of State John Kerry Monday. “I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and the Government of Oman for their leadership and assistance in securing Mr. Luqman’s safe return. We also recognize this positive gesture by the Houthis.”

Kerry said the protection of U.S. citizens around the world is “among the highest priorities” of the Department of State. He said today’s release is “testament to the diligence and seriousness with which we all pursue that goal.”

As President Obama has said, we will be relentless in our efforts to secure the release of Americans unjustly detained overseas, and we continue to call for the release of individuals unjustly held in Yemen.

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