Steen Brother Volunteers to Trade Self for Ill Hostage With PM-Lebanon-Hostages, Bjt
Undated (AP) _ One brother of hostage Alann Steen has offered to trade places with the Beirut University professor, who his captors say is gravely ill, while a second brother said he doubted the kidnappers’ claims of sickness at all.
Bruce Steen, 44, of Stockton, Calif., said Monday that he discussed the swap with a State Department spokesman in Washington who ″didn’t encourage this, but didn’t discourage it either.″
″It’s a long shot,″ Bruce Steen told KGO-Radio in San Francisco. ″It’s the only hope that I can see if Alann needs medical attention.″
Moslem kidnappers on Monday said Alann Steen, 47, is so ill he may die within 10 days and offered to trade him for 100 Arab prisoners held in Israel.
Meanwhile, Craig Steen called the illness claims ″a lot of bunk.″
″Alann’s never been sick a day in his life,″ Sgt. Craig Steen, 40, stationed at the Fort Huachuca Army Base south of Tucson, Ariz., told The Boston Herald in an interview printed today.
″They’re using a stomach ache or the flu or something to put pressure on Israel, but it’s not going to work,″ he said. ″They’re going to have to come up with something better than that.″
Craig Steen said the group would have included a doctor’s diagnosis if his brother really were ill. He thought it more likely the captors were timing a publicity stunt to go with former President Jimmy Carter’s visit to Syria and Israel.
″I’m going to handle it just like the other ultimatums they’ve issued and then let pass. I’m just going to take it as it comes and hold on,″ he said.
Bruce Steen said he was not aware his brother might be suffering from a life-threatening illness until it was reported by the kidnappers.
He said his brother ″looked kind of thin, like he had lost some weight″ in the last photo he’d seen, ″but other than that, this is all new to me.″
Alann Steen, a communications professor, was kidnapped from Beirut University with three other teachers Jan. 24.
A handwritten message about Steen’s health was delivered to the independent Beirut newspaper An-Hahar on Monday, signed by the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine.
The captors’ statement said the United States and Israel would be responsible for ″the dangers he will be exposed to after this period″ and promised to release a videotape within 72 hours making Steen’s illness and condition clear.
In Washington, White House spokesman Roman Popadiuk said: ″We hold the captors responsible for the safety of the hostages, and we will not pressure any third parties into giving in to terrorists’ demands.″