US hostage freed in Beirut

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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