A 45-year-old journalist who was kidnapped by Somali pirates more than two years ago has been freed, according to his family and a Somali official cited by CNN. Michael Scott Moore, who holds both US and German citizenship and was in Somalia researching a book on piracy, is said by Germany's foreign ministry to be doing well considering his circumstances, der Spiegel reports. Moore, who was nabbed in Galkayo while driving from the airport in January 2012, is currently receiving medical care. A German foreign ministry rep tells the AP that Moore is at the German Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, though officials there denied that.
The rep says that a crisis group from her organization, German police, and US officials working "very closely" together helped secure Moore's release; the governor of Somalia's Mudug region tells CNN that local elders also played a part. Moore's mother, Marlis Saunders, wouldn't comment to CNN on whether a ransom was paid, but a pirate commander tells the AP that Moore was exchanged for $1.6 million; the commander also reveals that the pirates were afraid the US would soon intervene using force. Moore had penned a number of stories before his capture explaining how Somali piracy might be perpetuated by illegal European fishing, says an editor at Pacific Standard, for which Moore freelanced. "Of all the people for the pirates to nab," Michel Todd tells CNN. "I'm not saying he was pro-pirate, but he was pro-truth, and that seemed like something that might have been helpful to Somalis."