An American citizen detained by Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen for over a year and a half has been released, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday (6 November). The man was reportedly freed after negotiations were held in capital Sana'a.

Kerry said in a statement that he welcomed the release of Marine veteran Wallead Yusuf Pitts Luqman and said he recognised it as a "positive gesture by the Houthis". According to reports, the US national left the country on a flight to Oman.

Oman's foreign ministry said in a statement that the US citizen was evacuated via an Omani military jet bound for Muscat on Sunday. The ministry added that the man was released following "a request by the US government [to Oman] to continue helping in [releasing] its citizens held in Yemen."

In a Facebook post last month, Luqman's wife Jihan Mohammed had urged authorities to seek her husband's release as she claimed that he was "held unjustly" without charges. She added that Luqman was in Yemen teaching English and he was abducted in April 2015 while trying to leave the country by bus.

Houthi rebels had released American citizens who were detained after they took control of Sana'a in September 2014. The rebels ousted the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi at the time. In March 2015, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition began a campaign against rebels to reinstate Hadi.

Oman is reportedly the only country from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) not to have joined the Saudi coalition even though it maintains good relationship with the kingdom.

Shi'ite Houthi
A girl carries a rifle as she attends a rally by followers of the Shia Houthi movement commemorating the death of Imam Zaid bin Ali in Sana'a, Yemen - Representational image Khaled Abdullah/ Reuters