Yemeni US embassy employee dies after months in Houthi rebel detention
Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, a retired employee at the embassy in Sanaa, was reportedly found dead in a Houthi-controlled prison in the city on Tuesday.
Al-Ajami’s family is said to have been informed and has asked to retrieve his body, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, and plans to bury him on Thursday.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price offered his condolences to Al-Ajami’s family in an official statement.
The United States is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, one of our retired employees at @USEmbassyYemen who passed away in Houthi detention. We express our sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones. https://t.co/kxCMe6fEZJ— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) May 25, 2022
"Al-Ajami had no contact with his family during the last six months of his life," the statement read.
The State Department also urged the Houthis to release any of its current and former US employees from detention.
In November last year, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels stormed the former US embassy compound in Sanaa, seized the property, and detained an unspecified number of locally employed staff.
Most of the staff were released, but the rebels continued to hold Yemeni employees of the embassy, including Al-Ajami. He was reportedly taken to an unknown location and had all his personal belongings confiscated.
The UN Security Council strongly condemned the incident, and ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Houthis from the long-closed embassy’s premises, as well as the immediate release of those being held.
The Houthis abducted two more US embassy staff members in February of this year, according to The Associated Press. It remains unknown whether they were released or not.
The US closed its embassy in Sanaa in 2015 amid the onset of the Yemeni civil war between the Houthis and the Saudi-led Arab coalition, and subsequently assigned its embassy operations to Riyadh.