Pilot In Angola Seen On Video
LIGONIER, Pa. (AP) _ The father of an American pilot forced down in Angola last month says the State Department told him a European journalist saw a videotape showing his son alive and apparently well.
″It was a tremendous relief,″ said Bernard Longo, of Ligonier, father of Joseph Longo of nearby Greensburg.
U.S. officials have had no success in trying to persuade Angolan authorities to free the younger Longo, who reportedly was forced down by fighter planes April 21. Family and associates say Longo was ferrying a $175,000 Beechcraft Bonanza to Botswana when he veered over Angola.
The European journalist was not identified, except as a woman. Longo said a State Department official told him the woman saw the video Saturday when she visited the Italian embassy in Luanda, the Angolan capital. The Italians have been acting on behalf of the United States, which maintains no formal relations with the Marxist government of Angola.
In the video, Longo reportedly said that his plane was not shot down as originally reported but was ″obliged to land″ and that he was being treated well.
″The woman journalist gave her information to the Italian ambassador in Luanda who contacted the State Department. This is what we’ve been waiting for, to have someone see Joe and see that he was being treated well,″ the father said Wednesday.
″We have every reason to believe the journalist. There’s no reason not to,″ said Leslie Premick of Greensburg, Longo’s fiance. ″I was thrilled to hear the news.″
Miss Premick has helped gather 10,000 signatures calling for Longo’s swift release.
″We’re following every channel we can,″ she said. ″We’re investing our hopes in every little piece of information we receive.″