WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
- Jeff Woodke, an American humanitarian worker, was released after being held captive for six years in Niger. There was no ransom paid or concessions made for his release.
- French journalist Olivier Dubois was also reportedly released after being held hostage in Mali for over two years.
- The releases came after years of work and visits by top officials from the United States and France.
American humanitarian worker Jeff Woodke was released on Monday after six years in captivity in Niger. According to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the event was the result of years of work and cooperation with the government of Niger.
There was no ransom paid or concessions made as part of securing Woodke’s release, and his current whereabouts have not been disclosed. Woodke’s wife, Els Woodke, was informed of her husband’s release in Niamey, the capital of Niger in West Africa.
Woodke had served as a missionary and humanitarian aid worker in Niger for more than 30 years, according to the FBI. He was abducted in October 2016 from his home in Abalak, Niger, after armed men ambushed and assassinated his guards before putting him in their truck and driving north towards Mali’s border.
Although nobody has publicly taken credit for Woodke’s abduction, a number of Islamist militants with ties to Al Qaeda are known to operate in the area.
French journalist Olivier Dubois was also reportedly released after being held hostage in Mali for over two years. In May 2021, Dubois announced his abduction in a video posted on social media, claiming that he had been kidnapped in the northern city of Gao by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel region of Africa which is linked to Al-Qaeda.
Following his release, French President Emmanuel Macron thanked Niger for its help in securing Dubois’ release and said that Dubois was in “good health” after speaking to him.
The releases of Woodke and Dubois came days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Niger for an official visit, becoming the first top United States diplomat to do so. Blinken emphasized his commitment to bringing home any unjustly detained American, wherever that is in the world.
In a tweet, Sullivan thanked “so many across our government who’ve worked tirelessly toward securing [Woodke’s] freedom.”