American pilot Ryan Koher, part of Mission Aviation Fellowship, has been granted a provisional release from prison in Mozambique after being detained on Nov. 4. Koher and two South African nationals were accused of smuggling insurgents in the country and detained, where he has been held since November.
Koher left the prison on March 14, after being held for four months. He met with a doctor and the U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique and some of the staff, later returning to his home in Nampula. Koher will wait in Nampula as the judicial process moves forward on his case. MAF released a video with a message from Koher, thanking the community for the continued prayers and support while he was detained.RELATED STORY:MAF calls for immediate release of missionary pilot detained in Mozambique
While undergoing a normal security scan at the airport, police were alerted to Koher and two South African men, W.J. Plessis and Eric Dry. Authorities searched through and were suspicious of the vitamins, over-the-counter medications and food preservative supplies they had packed to deliver to orphanages and staff. Koher has an attorney working on his case after the accusation, which had escalated to "supporting terrorism" after the three were detained.
His wife Annabel and their two young sons returned to MAF headquarters in Nampa, Idaho and received limited communications with Koher during his ordeal. A January update revealed he had limited visitation, with only his attorney and visits from embassy officials allowed. A second update in January revealed there was no evidence of mistreatment, only minor medical problems like bug bites and by late January, he was able to call his wife and talk for several minutes.A letter from Ryan Koher thanking the community for support and prayers
A Feb. 9 update revealed the Mozambican judge denied bail for Koher and the two South African men. MAF's country director was able to meet with him and Koher had requested several items like over-the-counter medications and something to deter the bugs from biting him.
At the end of his fourth month, Mozambican law required the prosecutor to file the results of the investigation with a judge, but the dates are often fluid. In early March the Cessna 206 involved was flown to Beira, Mozambique and later flown to Nampula with some of Koher's personal items. Prison doctors were finally providing Koher with medications to help ease the itching from the bug bites.
His lawyer began taking legal action to ensure due process was followed in the case, with hopes the prosecutor would drop the case. MAF updated on March 15, announcing Koher had been granted a provisional release the day prior, along with the two South African men. They are required to remain in Mozambique while the case is ongoing, but Koher has been able to talk to his wife and sons many times.
While the case is ongoing, the U.S. Ambassador and staff, as well as Koher's attorney and legal team, will remain involved with the case while he is out on provisional release. While he is enjoying a small bit of freedom after months away, Koher is hoping the case will be dismissed and he can return home to his family.
Koher was a pilot for Ambassador Aviation, a partner of Mission Aviation Fellowship, which has been serving the people of Mozambique since 1999. Ambassador Aviation became MAF's operational entity in 2014 as a registered charter service in the country, providing food, medicine and evacuations in the area.