American missionary pilot Ryan Koher, who was jailed in Mozambique, has been released conditionally. Koher had been detained by Mozambican authorities on charges of smuggling and illegal entry into the country.
According to reports, Koher, while working with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), was arrested in November 2022 after he allegedly flew his plane into Mozambique without the required documentation. He was subsequently charged with smuggling and illegal entry into the country, which could have landed him a sentence in prison. However, after several months in detention, Koher was granted conditional release by a court in Pemba, Mozambique. Under the terms of his release, Koher is required to remain in the country and report to the authorities regularly.
The news of his release was confirmed by Mission Aviation Fellowship in a statement. David Holsten, MAF President and CEO said in a statement at the time, that Mr. Koher “had done nothing wrong.” Koher was arrested alongside two South African volunteers, W. J. du Plessis and Eric Dry, and were detained for over four months.
Their release was evident after a petition was written by over 25 human rights and religious freedom persons as well as organisation to the Mozambique Ambassador, Carlos Dos Santos. They had expressed their concern over the arrest of the missionaries and the health condition of Koher, which was said to have declined while behind bars. The letter also pointed to the insurgence wave in the Northern Province of Cabo Delgado.
It said: “Part of our concern arises from the attacks against Houses of Worship that have taken place during the conflict such as the incident in Namade that took place around the New Year’s holiday that resulted in the deaths of two people and several homes.”
Koher’s release was welcomed by his family and supporters, who had been advocating for his freedom for months. In a statement, Koher’s wife expressed her relief at his release and thanked all those who had supported her family during the difficult time. The case has been closely watched by human rights organisations, who have raised concerns about the treatment of Koher during his detention.
The release of Koher is seen as a positive step towards resolving the case, although it remains unclear what the future holds for the missionary pilot. The charges against him have not been dropped, and it is not yet known when his trial will take place.