New York, June 1, 2015--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of American freelance journalist Casey Coombs, who had been held by Houthi rebels for two weeks. Coombs, who has written for publications including Time and The Intercept, has arrived safely in Oman, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. Details of his case were not reported earlier at the request of his family.
"We are relieved that Casey Coombs is free and safe," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "His ordeal is emblematic of the many dangers facing journalists in Yemen today--most of whom are Yemenis, all of whom are caught between Houthis and competing military forces and in constant danger of abduction or attack."
Journalists have been harassed and attacked in Yemen since Houthi militia took over large parts of the country at the start of the year and a Saudi-led coalition of 10 countries began air strikes against the militia in March. Last week, the bodies of two local journalists who had been kidnapped by Houthis were found in the rubble of a building destroyed by a coalition air strike, according to reports. In April, another local journalist and two media workers were killed in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition in the Faj Attan district of the capital.
Coombs, who had been based in Yemen's capital, Sana, since 2012, was abducted by Houthi militiamen in mid-May, according to reports citing the State Department. In an article he wrote for The Intercept last month, Coombs said he had been trying to leave the country amid the unrest, but was struggling to find a safe route out.