An American missionary pilot and two South Africans imprisoned for four months in war-torn Mozambique have been released, according to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).
Ryan Koher and South Africans W.J. du Plessis and Eric Dry were arrested in November in southern Mozambique on suspicions they were supporting an Islamic insurgent group in the northern part of the country.
On late Tuesday afternoon, the men were released from prison. But according to MAF, their case is ongoing and they are required to remain in Mozambique.
“Ryan has talked with his wife, Annabel, and his two boys multiple times now and he is doing well,” MAF reported.
“The executive leadership team of MAF-US expresses its thanks for all those who have been praying for Ryan and his family. We ask for continued prayer that the final outcome will be a full release of Ryan from any charges and trial.”
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Koher is a pilot for Ambassador Aviation Limited, a missions organization that partners with MAF.
In November, Koher had flown to the city of Inhambane to pick up a load of over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and other supplies. The plan was to fly the supplies to orphanages near Montepuez in Northern Mozambique. However, during a routine security screening, airport officials became suspicious and arrested Koher and the two South Africans.
David Holsten, president of MAF, told media in December that it’s not unusual for security officials to question pilots about their cargo. But in the past, pilots have been detained for only a few hours.
Holsten added that the missions group has historically had a good relationship with the government in Mozambique and is registered as a commercial airline the same as any other airline. MAF has denied any wrongdoing on Koher’s part.
After Koher’s arrest, his wife and children were evacuated to the United States, where they remain. In a video released two months ago, Annabel Koher thanked the family’s supporters around the world who have been faithfully praying and fasting for her husband’s release.
“As Ryan wrote from prison, there is a struggle between flesh and spirit in this trying time,” Annabel Koher said. “. . . Overall, we are finding comfort in God’s sovereignty and He has given us an unexplainable and trust in His will at this time. Just as we can see in David’s many psalms, our tears crying out for help are mingled with the praises of God’s glory and goodness.”
Today, MAF expressed gratitude to the courts of Mozambique for allowing the men to be released. The group added that “out of respect for the legal process in Mozambique,” it would not comment further.
Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. She also previously hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate, and has worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate. Her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals.