WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. jury has found a Somali man who acted as a negotiator for pirates aboard a hijacked ship not guilty of piracy, but it has not yet reached a verdict on two lesser charges of hostage-taking.

Fifty-one-year-old Ali Mohamed Ali would have faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted of piracy. He smiled and embraced his lawyer after the verdict was announced Tuesday.

Ali negotiated a ransom for Somali pirates during a 2008 pirate takeover of a Danish merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden. At the time of his 2011 arrest, he was the education minister in Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, but he's spent most of his adult life in the U.S.