Hereford & Worcester

Aid worker John Sorbo seized in Sudan is released

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Media captionBecs Sorbo said her aid worker husband John's release from prison in Sudan had been a "shock"

The wife of a mine clearing expert from Herefordshire being held in prison in Sudan has said he has been released.

John Sorbo, 50, originally from Norway, was one of four people arrested last month while working for the Norwegian People's Aid charity.

His wife Becs said: "He sounded in really good spirits and said they had been very well looked after."

Mrs Sorbo said it was uncertain when he would return to the UK but that he would be able to call home regularly.

Last month, Sudanese officials said four foreigners had been detained in the sensitive Heglig oilfield area, the scene of recent fighting with South Sudanese forces.

The other three people are from the UK, South Africa and South Sudan. They were held in a military compound.

UN mission

Mrs Sorbo said she had received a phone call from the charity on Sunday saying they had been released.

She said: "They then rang again to say that the [Norwegian] embassy out there had confirmed it and then John rang a little later.

"He sounded fine, he just seemed like normal John and said it had been a good experience and that he didn't want me to worry."

Austin Breeni, from the Norwegian People's Aid charity, said the men's release had been a "cross-the-world-effort".

He said: "We've been working very closely with the Norwegian authorities.

"But they have had extremely good help from the UN, because they [the aid workers] were actually on a UN mission when they were apprehended.

"I think the breakthrough came with the involvement of the African Union, who managed to get the guys out."


Mr Sorbo, who has two daughters with his wife, has worked in South Sudan on mine clearance since 2005 and regularly visited the Heglig area.

Mrs Sorbo said John had told her the companionship of the other three men had helped him cope.

She said: "He said that they'd become really close and spent many hours talking and getting to know each other.

"He's a very strong person but said that had kept him going in the darkest moments.

"I still don't know the details of why they were captured but for now we will just be celebrating and we can't wait for him to come home."

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