Ex-Hostage Worries 14 Others in Lebanon Will Be Forgotten With PM-Gulf Rdp, Bjt
BOSTON (AP) _ Former hostage Frank Reed says his 14 Western comrades in Lebanon are forgotten, deprived, sick men whose plight is worsened by the new hostage crisis in the Persian Gulf. ″God forbid they come out in a box,″ he said.
″What’s frightening is that they could be there for 10 years,″ he said in an interview Tuesday. ″They told me the day I was captured, ‘You’re going to be here for 20 years.’ I’m a very lucky man to be out.″
Reed said the 3,000 Americans held in Iraq and Kuwait will take priority over the six Americans and eight other Westerners held in Lebanon by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, or Party of God, which is believed to be an umbrella group for Shiite Moslem terrorists.
″I think it it will have an overall effect of them being put further and further down in the agendas,″ said Reed. ″As far as I know, the American government is doing nothing.″
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said he had no comment on Reed’s remarks.
Reed implored the American public to ″start writing people, the president, their senator, their representative, to make them aware of the humanity that supposedly exists in this country.″
″For God’s sake we’re talking about almost six years that Terry Anderson and Tom Sutherland have been in captivity,″ he said. ″They should be freed. When I left them they were sick. This is very degenerating.″
Anderson, 42, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, is the longest held of the hostages. He has been in captivity nearly 5 1/2 years. Sutherland, 59, acting dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut, has been held for a little over five years.
The other American hostages are: Joseph Cicippio, 59, acting comptroller at the American University in Beirut; Edward Tracy, 59, West Beirut resident; Alann Steen, 51, a communications instructor at Beirut University College, and Jesse Turner, 42, professor of mathematics and computer science at Beirut University College.
Reed, 57, lives in suburban Malden. He was the founder and president of the Lebanese International School. He was freed in April after 3 1/2 years in captivity. No American hostages have been released since then.
Reed has criticized the Bush administration for its stand against negotiating with terrorists.
The demands of the kidnappers in Lebanon include the release of prisoners held by Israel in southern Lebanon and terrorists jailed in Kuwait and Western capitals.
There are conflicting reports on the fate of the prisoners in Kuwait. Some say they escaped after the Iraqi invasion. Others say they have been killed. Some suggest they have been moved to Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
If the prisoners in Kuwait got out, the Western nations now have less to offer to the kidnappers to free the hostages, Reed said.
The conditions under which the Americans in Iraq and Kuwait are being held are not known. In Lebanon, the hostages have been blindfolded, chained and malnourished. Reed said he was badly beaten, apparently for trying to escape twice, and poisoned with arsenic.
Reed said he was sympathetic to American families who have relatives among the hostages in Iraq and Kuwait. ″But I believe they’re a hell of a lot safer in that situation than the people I left behind are,″ he said.