Television Says Kidnapping of Journalist May Be Linked to Hamadi Case With AM-Lebanon-Hostages
BONN, West Germany (AP) _ Lebanese security officials believe the kidnapping of American journalist Charles Glass may have occurred to prevent him from testifying against a suspected TWA hijacker held in West Germany, television reports said Thursday.
West German television reports noted that Glass, an ABC television reporter kidnapped in west Beirut on Wednesday, became known throughout the world for his coverage of the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner to Beirut.
West Germany is holding one of the alleged hijackers, Mohammad Ali Hamadi, and is considering a U.S. request for the 22-year-old suspect’s extradition.
ARD, a national West German television network, noted Glass was near the commandeered TWA aircraft as it sat on the ground at the Beirut airport in June 1985.
″Therefore, security officials in Beirut presume that he was kidnapped to prevent him from testifying against Hamadi, the alleged hijacker, who is now under arrest in West Germany,″ the ARD news announcer said.
The network did not cite sources for the report, which came on the network’s nightly newscast.
There has been no claim of responsibility for Glass’ abduction.
West Germany’s second national television network, ZDF, also reported Lebanese officials believe there may be a connection between Hamadi and Glass’ kidnapping.
″Glass in 1985 conducted the television interview with the pilot of the hijacked TWA jetliner that was broadcast world-wide,″ said the ZDF report.
″Therefore Lebanese security officials conclude there might be a connection to the Hamadi case,″ the news show’s announcer added, without citing sources for the report.
During the 1985 hijack ordeal, Glass stood outside the commandeered aircraft at the Beirut airport and interviewed its pilot, John Testrake, as a hijacker held a pistol to the TWA flyer’s head.
In Bonn, government officials played down speculation of a link between the Glass kidnapping and Hamadi.
″I suppose it is easy to make the connection,″ said one official, who spoke to The Associated Press in a telephone interview on condition of anonymity.
″But it is pure speculation,″ he added. ″There is nothing official.″
Foreign Minsitry spokesman Heiner Horsten declined to comment on the speculation.
″I have nothing to say on that,″ he told the AP in a telephone interview. ″Our policy has been not to say anything on (the Hamadi) case, and that has not been changed.″
Juergen Findeisen, a Bonn government spokesman, also declined comment.
In Beirut, police said Thursday that Glass was kidnapped before noon Wednesday in a Syrian-policed Shiite Moslem suburb of West Beirut.
Hamadi, a Shiite Moslem, was arrested at Frankfurt airport on Jan. 13 when he arrived from Beirut carrying a substance often used in explosives. He has has been held in investigative custody in a West German jail since.
The United States has asked for Hamadi’s extradition to stand trial on charges of air piracy and for the murder of a U.S. Navy diver killed in the 1985 hijacking.
The Bonn government has said it will decide next week whether to extradite Hamadi or place him on trial in West Germany.
Officials at the federal prosecutors’ office - which would press charges of air piracy against Hamadi if the Bonn governemnt decides not to extradite him - could not be reached for comment Thursday because of a national holiday.