Jamie Sponaugle, an American Air Force veteran who was accused of working as a mercenary for the Government of National Accord (GNA), has been released by the Libyan National Army (LNA), U.S. officials told the Washington Post on June 25.
“We are always pleased to see Americans held captive overseas returned home to their friends and family,” Ambassador Robert O’Brien, President Trump’s envoy for hostage affairs, said in a phone interview with the Washington Post, and added: “We appreciate his captors’ decision to release him. We also thank the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its role in resolving this case.”
Sponaugle, a 31-year-old man from Florida, was captured on May 7 when his Mirage F.1 warplane, owned by the GNA, was shot down by the LNA south of the capital of Tripoli. Back then, the army claimed that Sponaugle was Portuguese. A claim that was immediately dismissed by the Portuguese military.
While there is no doubt that Sponaugle was working as a pilot for the GNA’s air force, it is still unclear if he was indeed involved in military actions, as the LNA had claimed.
The GNA is well-known for employing foreign technicians and pilots to maintain and operate its small, struggling air force.