A pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) who was wrongfully detained in Mozambique has been welcomed home to the United States after travel restrictions against him were lifted.
Ryan Koher was detained in November 2022, along with two South African nationals – Willem du Plessis and Eric Dry – on the apparent suspicion that the men were supporting insurgents in a volatile region of Mozambique. Both South Africans have also received their passports and have been granted permission to travel this month.
Koher, a bush pilot for humanitarian air service Ambassador Aviation Ltd [AAL] – an operational arm of MAF, was arrested before piloting a charter flight to transport supplies for orphanages near Montepuez in northern Mozambique. While conducting security scans at the airport, police seized vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and food preservative supplies intended for the orphanages and staff.
The three men were jailed on an undetermined charge and held in a maximum-security prison in the capital, Maputo.
In March the three men were granted provisional release and reunited with their families after almost five months behind bars. Koher was allowed to carry out ground duties in AAL's hangar but had not been permitted to pilot an aircraft because of the ongoing investigation.
Earlier this month, a judge lifted travel restrictions, allowing him to travel to his native America. He arrived with his wife Annabel and their two children at Boise airport, Idaho, to spend an extended period with friends and wider family in the US.
While in prison, Koher had regularly written updates on his condition, which included being bitten by insects, resulting in itching and discomfort. However, there was no evidence of physical mistreatment, and Ryan expressed how his faith had kept him strong and healthy during his time in prison.
"I try to exercise every day and spend most of my time reading the Bible. I need not fear in the face of suffering because I am united with Christ. It is very comforting to me because I know He will be with me and has a purpose in it all."
Despite their recent freedom to leave Mozambique, an investigation is still ongoing, and the case is yet to be dismissed. Koher's lawyer is continuing to monitor the case and is waiting for the prosecutor to conclude the investigation. MAF US has asked friends, family, and supporters to continue to pray for the case against Koher to be dropped so he can resume his flying career with MAF.
MAF has described Koher as "a caring and gentle individual".
"Over the last couple of years, he and his wife have worked hard to learn the language and culture of Mozambique to better serve those who rely on our services.
"Ambassador Aviation has long sought to care for those who have been harmed by the insurgency, including evacuating innocent residents following the attacks in March 2021. We invite our supporters to continue to pray for this situation," it concluded.