3 Americans Among 18 Hostages Freed By Baghdad
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Eighteen foreigners - three Americans, 10 Britons and five Germans - arrived in the Jordanian capital today after being freed by President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
The Americans, waving Iraqi and American flags, and the Britons were released after their relatives went to Baghdad to plead for their freedom.
John Stevenson of Panama City, Fla.; Fred Harrington of Bellevue, Wash.; and Clyde Jesse of Buffalo Grove, Ill., complained they were ignored by the Bush administration. They said only their relatives helped free them.
The Bush administration has refused to negotiate the release of American hostages, saying Iraq should free them all unconditionally. The State Department has urged Americans not to go to Iraq, saying they could become hostages themselves or play into the hands of Iraqi propagandists.
″I believe it is time we started talking,″ said Jesse, whose freedom was secured by his wife, Honey, after she flew to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day.
″Perhaps it is time we women did the work,″ Mrs. Jesse said, smiling and snuggling close to her husband, who was wearing a neck brace that he refused to comment on. ″We work better where men fail,″ she added.
Jesse was among the Westerners rounded by the Iraqis a few days after the takeover of Kuwait, while his wife left the occupied emirate on Sept. 1.
Stevenson, a computer specialist who worked in Kuwait for 11 years, was released after his twin sister, Mary Trundy of Brockton, Mass., his brothers, Bill Stevenson of Panama City, Fla., and James Stevenson of Sarasota, Fla., visited Baghdad.
Harringon was freed when his son, Vala Fouroohi, flew to Baghdad.
The 18 freed foreigners reached Amman aboard two Iraqi Airways flights.
The five Germans had been in hiding in Kuwait since Aug. 7, five days after Iraq seized control of the Persian Gulf emirate.
The Germans said they could not reach Baghdad in time to join 104 of their countrymen who flew out of the Iraqi capital on Sunday after Saddam ordered the release of all German nationals.
The Britons were freed after their wives or daughters flew to Baghdad and met with Saddam, who ordered their release in appreciation of ″the women’s visit and the role of women in general.″
The Americans’ relatives also met with Saddam.
The Americans and the Britons were accompanied by their relatives. The women in the British group carried flowers; the Americans waved the U.S. and Iraqi flags.
The Germans expressed concern for Westerners left behind.
Hundreds of foreigners have been barred from leaving Iraq and Kuwait, and some are being held at strategic sites in hope of warding off any attack by the U.S.-led multinational force.
″There are a lot of people still hiding in various parts of Kuwait,″ Wruck Uwe, a German commercial photographer. ″The telephone system in Kuwait is still good, and we kept in touch with a lot of others like us.″
According to U.S. State Department figures, more than 900,000 of the estimated 3 million foreigners who were in Kuwait and Iraq on Aug. 2 have left.
The remaining 2 million, the vast majority Asian and Arab workers, are expected to try to depart.
Some foreigners, mostly women married to Iraqis or Kuwaitis, have elected to stay. Some governments and independent public figures have negotiated the release of their nationals.
Saddam has offered to free foreigners in exchange for guarantees he will not be attacked. On Nov. 18, he offered to free all foreigners between Dec. 25 and March 25, apparently seeking to forestall a U.S.-led assault.
Western governments and others have said they will not negotiate any releases because they believe Saddam is trying to divide the coalition assembled against him since the occupation of Kuwait.
However, former officials from several nations have gone to Baghdad and won the release of their citizens. The missions have drawn criticism, but have resulted in the release of some hostages.