British Embassy Says Cameraman Apparently Safe
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A British freelance documentary producer who was reported missing apparently is safe in east Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, a British Embassy spokesman said today.
The producer, Chris Wenner, ″is well and staying with a family in the Bekaa where he’s working on a story,″ said the spokesman, saying the information came from people who know Wenner.
″He has been seen at the Palmyra Hotel in Baalbek and was in the company of friends a few days ago,″ said the spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. ″We’re told he’s coming to Beirut tomorrow or Thursday.″
Saeed Ashkar, a soundman for a French documentary company, Rund Video News, reported Monday that Wenner had been missing for 18 days and was feared kidnapped.
Ashkar, a Lebanese, said he and Wenner, 30, were working together on a documentary on Lebanon’s lucrative hashish trade for Britain’s Channel 4 commercial television network.
He said Wenner left Beirut for the Bekaa Valley on Nov. 29, agreeing they would meet in Baalbek two days later. Ashkar said Wenner failed to show up and said he could find no trace of him.
An underground Shiite Moslem group, meanwhile, purportedly threatened to kill four kidnapped Lebanese Jews unless Israel releases 300 Shiite Moslems allegedly imprisoned in its ″security zone″ in south Lebanon.
The leftist Beirut newspaper As-Safir and the independent An-Nahar published a statement purportedly issued by the Organization of the Oppressed of the Earth, threatening to kill the Jews.
The statement did not set a deadline for killing Isaac Sasson, Isaac Tarrab, Elie Srour and Chaim Cohen Halala, all of whom disappeared in separate incidents in Moslem west Beirut about nine months ago.
The same group, which is believed made up by pro-Iranian Shiite militants, offered in a statement issued Nov. 17 to trade the four Jews for the 300 Shiites it claimed Israel held in a prison in the village of Khiam.
Its latest statement said, ″We shall begin executing them unless the strugglers in Khiam are released soonest.″ It charged the four with spying for Israel.
Khiam is in a border enclave Israel designated as a ″security zone″ in south Lebanon after it withdrew most of its army last June, ending a three- year occupation.
In other developments, a Lebanese-born French doctor who is acting for the French government in an effort to gain the release of four kidnapped Frenchmen left Paris for Beirut today.
The doctor, Razah Raad, was accompanied by diplomat Pierre Blouin, French officials said. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Raad was taking medical material for treatment of the hostages.
On a previous visit, Raad met with doctors who were treating the hostages after reports that one of the captives had serious health problems.
On his return from Beirut Nov. 29, Raad expressed optimism over the hostagers, and Foreign Minister Roland Dumas said progress had been made toward gaining their release.
In addition to the Frenchmen, six Americans, a Briton and an Italian are missing in Beirut.