US hostage freed in Beirut
An American held hostage in Beirut by Muslim fundamentalists has been released.
David Jacobsen was set free in the west of the Lebanese capital after 17 months of captivity at the hands of Islamic Jihad.
After his release, Mr Jacobsen, 55, was taken to the American embassy compound in east Beirut.
He was kidnapped in May 1985 as he walked the short distance from his home on the American University Hospital campus to the hospital compound.
He is expected to leave Beirut soon with his daughters and sons who have come to the city to greet him.
Mr Jacobsen’s release is being credited to the efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy, Terry Waite.
Soon after the hostage was freed a US helicopter collected Mr Waite from Larnaca in Cyprus where he had been conducting secret negotiations and took him to the US embassy in Beirut.
Mr Waite’s intervention in the case of the Beirut hostages comes after success in freeing people held in Iran and Libya.
So far he has helped gain the release of three Beirut hostages after their relatives appealed to him for help.
The US authorities were also involved in the negotiations.
US presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said they could not divulge details because of concerns for the safety of other captives in Lebanon.
“Again we call on the captors of all hostages in Lebanon to release their innocent victims.
“No political goals are or will be achieved by resorting to extortion or terrorism,” Mr Speakes said.
The US government held the kidnappers of the remaining hostages responsible for their safety, he added.
At least two other American hostages are still being held in Beirut as well as several Frenchmen and Briton John McCarthy.
After David Jacobsen’s release it emerged that in spite of earlier declarations, the US government had been effectively buying hostages’ freedom.
The US had been selling arms to Iran in return for its influence over the hostagetakers.
This led to the so-called ‘Iran Contragate’ affair after further revelations that money from the arms sales had then been channelled to fund rebels in Nicaragua.
Hostage negotiator Terry Waite was himself kidnapped in 1987 and not released until November 1991.
The following month saw the release of the last US hostage, Terry Anderson, after seven years in captivity.