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Hostage Release Report Raises Hopes of Jenco, Then Proves False With PM-Lebanon Bjt

August 8, 1985

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) _ Relatives of the Rev. Lawrence Martin Jenco, the Roman Catholic priest held hostage in Lebanon for seven months, say they’re still hopeful he may be released soon, despite false reports that he had been freed.

The family waited Wednesday for the State Department to confirm or deny a report that five Americans held hostage in Lebanon had been released.

Earlier, a Kuwaiti newspaper, quoting an unnamed Western diplomat, had reported five American and three French hostages would be released Wednesday.

But both reports appeared to be false.

Jenco’s brother, John, said from New York Wednesday that he had been told the five Americans were en route to Damascus, Syria. He was in New York to meet with with officials of Catholic Relief Services, the agency his brother worked with in Lebanon.

After John Jenco called relatives in Joliet with the news, his brother, Joe, called the State Department. The State Department said the report could not be confirmed.

Later, John Jenco said confirmation of the release by the State Department had been relayed to him indirectly by a Catholic Relief Services staff member.

″We jumped the gun,″ John Jenco said. ″When you get into the elated type of mood that transpired when we first heard the news, you sort of go off half- cocked. That’s what I did.

″Somebody said the State Department had confirmed the release. The State Department never made that statement. It was my mistake,″ he said.

Relatives said a call to John Jenco in New York, purportedly from the State Department confirming the release, may have been a hoax.

But John Jenco said he still believes the Kuwaiti newspaper report may have been accurate.

″We still think the release is imminent ... our hopes haven’t dimmed at all,″ he said.

Father Jenco was kidnapped in Beirut on Jan. 8.

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