A Dutch journalist and her partner kidnapped in Yemen six months ago have been freed.
Dutch hostages freed in Yemen
SANAA // A Dutch couple kidnapped in Yemen six months ago has been freed in the capital Sanaa, the two countries announced on Tuesday.
The couple, in good health, will be flown back home on Wednesday, they said, without giving details on the abductors or how the pair’s release was secured.
“Dutch journalist Judith Spiegel and her partner Boudewijn Berendsen, abducted since June 8, have been freed,” a security official said, quoted by Yemen’s state news agency Saba.
“The kidnappers freed the Dutch couple in an area near the embassy of the Netherlands and they are in a good health condition,” Saba reported, without giving details.
The Dutch ambassador in Sanaa, Jeroen Verheul, wrote on Twitter: “Happy to confirm that Judith and Boudewijn have been released safe and sound”.
The Hague said “the Yemeni and Netherlands governments are extremely pleased to welcome the news of the release” of the couple.
“They were recently released in the vicinity of the Netherlands embassy,” said the Dutch foreign ministry.
“The couple is in a good physical condition, extremely happy to have survived their ordeal unharmed and wishes nothing more than to be soonest reunited with their family,” it said.
The couple had made an emotional plea in an Internet video dated July 13 for their government to act to secure their release, warning at the time that they faced execution within 10 days by their “armed” abductors.
Dutch media said Spiegel is a journalist based in Sanaa for various Dutch media outlets, including public broadcaster NOS and financial daily NRC Handelsblad.
Berendsen is employed in the insurance industry.
Both Spiegel and her partner also teach at the Lebanese International University in Sanaa, local media reported.
Media reports said the couple were abducted from their home in the southwestern Hadda neighbourhood of Sanaa.
Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, mostly by tribesmen and nearly all of them later freed unharmed.
Al Qaeda militants have also seized foreigners in the country, including two diplomats – an Iranian and a Saudi – as well as a South African couple.
Yemen’s powerful tribes carry out frequent kidnappings of foreigners to use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.
In May, members of a southern tribe released three Red Cross employees, including a Swiss national and a Kenyan, and two Egyptians following tribal mediation.
* Agence France-Presse