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Family Of Irish Hostage Appeals For His Release

April 11, 1989

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ The mother and sisters of Irish hostage Brian Keenan appealed for his release Tuesday on the third anniversary of his abduction in Moslem west Beirut.

Keenan, 38, an English-language teacher at the American University of Beirut, was kidnapped April 11, 1986. No group has claimed responsibility for his abduction.

″We, the family of Brian Keenan who is today held hostage for three years, want to appeal to those who are holding him for some news about his well- being,″ Keenan’s family said in a statement.

An Arabic-language translation of the statement was published by the independent daily An-Nahar and leftist As-Safir.

″We again appeal to those holding our dear son and brother Brian to release him and let him go in peace,″ the statement said. It was signed by Keenan’s mother, identified only Mrs. Keenan, and his sisters Brenda Gilham and Elaine Spence.

Ms. Spence said Tuesday that Keenan came within 10 minutes of being released in January before something mysteriously went wrong.

″Our hopes were highest in January and we now know that Brian was 10 minutes away from being released,″ Mrs. Spence said in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview. ″He was clean shaven. He had fresh clothes. His hair was cut and he was ready for release.

″We don’t know what went wrong and we still don’t know what happened,″ she said. She did not indicate the source of the family’s information.

Keenan has dual British and Irish citizenship.

In addition to Keenan, 14 more foreign hostages in Lebanon believed held by Shiite Moslem groups loyal to Iran. They include nine Americans, three Britons, one Italian and one Belgian.

The longest held hostage is Terry Anderson, 41, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, who was abducted March 16, 1985 in Beirut.

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