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Portugal TV Bomb Threat Man Freed

January 5, 2001

LISBON, Portugal (AP) _ A man who barricaded himself and his family in the bathroom of a television station threatening to detonate a bomb was released from police custody early Friday.

Manuel Subtil, 47, was questioned for eight hours, then released with a warning that he should see a psychologist, the national news agency Lusa reported, quoting Subtil’s lawyer.

A police spokeswoman said Subtil will be brought before a judge at an unspecified date. The charges that he potentially faces are: breaking and entering, coercing and threatening people, and carrying an illegal weapon, Celeste Videla said.

Subtil, disgruntled over a drawn-out legal dispute with Portugal’s state TV company RTP, burst into the broadcaster’s Lisbon headquarters early Thursday.

Pointing a gun at a security guard and a cleaning lady, he warned that he was carrying a bomb that would go off if RTP failed to pay him compensation for a 10-year-old investigative TV report that he claimed ruined his France-based company, the station said.

He then locked himself in a small bathroom with his wife, ex-wife and two daughters, RTP said.

His daughters, ages 5 and 15, left the bathroom 5 1/2 hours later, followed by the others a few hours later. Subtil surrendered about eight hours after the standoff began, Lusa said.

No one was injured and no explosives were found, police said.

Subtil, who told local media during the standoff that he wanted to let his daughters out and then commit suicide, was treated like a hero when he emerged.

Dozens of onlookers clapped and cheered him in an apparent show of support for his outrage at Portugal’s notoriously slow legal system. He waved back and blew kisses.

Subtil sued RTP in 1994 after the station claimed his company, Luz Portuguesa, was providing fake documents, including employment contracts, to Portuguese emigrants so they could obtain work permits and residence permits in France.

A court ordered RTP to pay him compensation, but the broadcaster appealed the ruling. A hearing for the appeal is scheduled for next month, but Subtil reportedly was not aware a court date had been set.

Thursday’s was not Subtil’s first suicidal publicity stunt. He threatened to kill himself at the Portuguese Consulate in Paris in 1984, the daily Jornal de Noticias said.

That year, he also shut himself in a bathroom at a Lisbon Customs office and threatened suicide over an import dispute, the newspaper said.

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