German hostage in Yemen shown on TV

Hundreds of people have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past 15 years, mostly by tribesmen who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the government. (File photo: Reuters)

In his first appearance since being taken hostage in January, a German citizen being held in Yemen was shown on a private television channel Monday.

Ridiger Schwidt, kidnapped two months ago in a tribal region, was wearing dark glasses and a traditional white robe in the video and looked in bad health.

According to a reporter, Schwidt appeared to have lost weight and is suffering from lung cancer and needs urgent treatment.

The hostage appeared in the short video with his kidnapper who was holding a Kalashnikov rifle. The pair were seen outside the garage of a house under construction.

The Al-Yemen Al-Youm channel cited the kidnapper as Ali Harijiwan and said he demanded $5 million dollar ransom and threatened to “sell the hostage to al-Qaeda.”

The 60-year-old German native was kidnapped in Sanaa in late January by a tribesman pressuring authorities to release two of his sons, who have been detained, a foreign ministry official said.

A source close to the kidnapper told Agence France-Presse that the hostage's health was deteriorating and he required cancer treatment unavailable in Yemen.

Hundreds of people have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past 15 years, mostly by tribesmen who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the government.

Nearly all have later been freed unharmed.

(With AFP)
 

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Last Update: 07:42 KSA 10:42 - GMT 07:42
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