U.S. citizen freed 18 months after abduction in Yemen, Trump says

By Stefan Becket

/ CBS News

An American citizen who had been held captive by Yemeni rebels has been freed after a year and a half in captivity, President Trump announced Monday. Danny Burch was "recovered and reunited with his wife and children," the president tweeted.

Burch was living in Yemen and working for an oil company in September 2017 when he was abducted by armed gunmen in broad daylight from his car in the streets of the capital of Sana, his family members said at the time. The capital is controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who are locked in a fierce conflict with the Yemeni government and a coalition of Sunni countries led by Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Trump thanked the United Arab Emirates for helping secure Burch's release, saying in a statement that his recovery "reflects the best of what the United States and its partners can accomplish." The president, who is en route to Vietnam for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said Burch is the 20th American released from captivity abroad under his administration.

"We will not rest as we continue our work to bring the remaining American hostages back home," Mr. Trump said. "Today, we join Danny and his family in celebrating his return."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked the State Department's Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and the U.S. Mission to the UAE for their work securing Burch's release.

Burch was born in Louisiana and moved to Yemen full time in 2005, his son from an earlier marriage told The New York Times shortly after his abduction. He married a Yemeni citizen and fathered three children in the country. He was 63 at the time of his abduction, according to family members.

In January 2018, Reuters, citing sources in Sana, reported Burch had been freed and brought to the capital of Oman by a senior Houthi official for peace talks that eventually broke down. Asked for clarification about the Reuters report on Monday, a State Department spokesman declined to comment on the record, citing the Burch family's request for privacy.

Sara Cook and Christina Ruffini contributed reporting.

First published on February 25, 2019 / 5:19 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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