Captors Wanted Him to Stay in Beirut, David Jacobsen Says
ORANGE, Calif. (AP) _ Former hostage David Jacobsen addressed his one-time captors directly today, imploring them to release American captives still held in Lebanon.
″I trust, Haj, that you will release Terry Anderson and Tom Sutherland and assist in the release of hostages held by others,″ Jacobsen said at a crowded news conference.
″In my conversations with you about democracy, peace, education and the history of your people, my feelings have not changed,″ he said. ″I pray that the poor people you represent will someday enjoy the benefits that every human being deserves.″
Jacobsen, who was held hostage for 17 months, declined several times to discuss details of his release or any efforts being made to free the remaining hostages.
″Mere speculation can be misinterpreted and frighten the people holding the remaining in Lebanon. Their captors might overreact and kill Terry, Tom and the others,″ he said.
Jacobsen said he was physically well-treated and that his captors presented birthday cakes and sang ″Happy Birthday″ to the hostages.
But he told reporters, ″I am not a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome,″ a psychological condition in which kidnap victims become sympathetic to their captors.
In a newspaper interview published today, Jacobsen said the Moslem extremists who held him captive urged him to stay in Lebanon after his release and return to the helm of the American University Hospital in Beirut.
″On one, no, several occasions, they said they hoped I would remain in Lebanon and help the poor people after my release, and that I would be perfectly safe and they would protect me, and that they needed me,″ Jacobsen said in an interview with the Orange Coast Daily Pilot.
The copyright story published in today’s editions of the Daily Pilot was the first private media interview Jacobsen, 55, has granted since his release Nov. 2.
″In my heart, I suffer along with the people of Lebanon for what has happened to them in 11 years of their war,″ Jacobsen said. ″People do not take hostages out of boredom.″
But he added that he will not return to Lebanon, despite a contract with the American University there.
In the interview at his son’s Huntington Beach condominium, Jacobsen declined to discuss reports that the Reagan administration secured his release, and hoped to free other hostages, through an arms deal with Iran.
″I don’t want to add to the speculation on which this is all based,″ he said.
Jacobsen stressed that regardless of what he said in letters and videotaped messages released by his captors, he never felt abandoned by President Reagan and the U.S. government.
″I was under duress,″ he said of those messages. ″I was cut off from communication with the outside world. There was no way of knowing what he (Reagan) was doing to secure our release. I learned he really cared for us from day one.″
Jacobsen was walking to the hospital where he worked in West Beirut when he was kidnapped by six gunmen on May 28, 1985.
″My only regret is that I didn’t fight harder at the time of the kidnapping, though I put up quite a struggle,″ he said.
He declined to discuss some details of his 17-month captivity, but he denied reports that the hostages were beaten or tortured, and said he never felt that he would be killed.
Explaining earlier remarks, made shortly after his release, that the Americans still held hostage are ″in hell,″ Jacobsen told the newspaper he meant mental, rather than physical, anguish.
″When you are stripped of your freedom and ability to make any decisions, simple decisions, that’s hell for any educated, intelligent man,″ he said.
But during the early part of his captivity he was chained hand and foot and moved to several different locations, he said. Only twice during the 17 months was he allowed outside, he added.
He said five American hostages were held together most of the time, including Terry Anderson, Middle East bureau chief for The Associated Press, and Thomas Sutherland, acting chief of agriculture at the American University. Both are still being held.
The captives were held in small quarters, fed a vegetarian diet and clothed in T-shirts, boxer shorts and briefs, he told the newspaper.
″We talked about virtually every conceivable subject. When you live with someone 24 hours a day, you become confidants and confessors,″ he said.
″We developed a love-hate relationship. We were strong individuals varied in politics and other things. We had disagreements, we had discussions. Out of all this we became friends.″