Iranian Hostage Freed by Somali Pirates After Four Years

Somali pirates have released a sick Iranian hostage they captured more than four years ago due to his urgent need to medical care, a humanitarian group says.

Mohammad Sharif Panahandeh was “seriously ill” and has been freed on humanitarian grounds, the Hostage Support Partnership (HSP), which helped negotiate his release, said.

The Iranian sailor , identified as Mohammad Shariff Panahandeh,   was taken to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for initial treatment and is set to be flown home.

“He’s severely malnourished. He lost a huge amount of weight. It reminded me of someone who’s just been released from Belsen (a Nazi) concentration camp,” John Steed of the HSP said.

Over the past decade, thousands of crew have been taken hostage off the coast of Somalia and released for a ransom.

Mr Sharif’s freedom means pirates are holding just three people captive. The three remaining hostages are all Iranian nationals and were taken with Mr Sharif from a fishing boat in March 2015, according to the John Steed from HSP .

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