Greece releases man falsely arrested for 1985 TWA hijacking | News | DW | 24.09.2019
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Greece releases man falsely arrested for 1985 TWA hijacking

Greek authorities have released a 65-year-old Lebanese man arrested last week for involvement in a 1985 hijacking that left a US serviceman dead. They say his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

Mohammed Saleh, a 65-year-old Lebanese journalist arrested last week on the Greek resort island of Mykonos in connection with the highjacking of a TWA airliner in 1985, was released by authorities late Monday night after it was determined that he was not the man sought by German police.

Saleh's wife, Leila, told The Associated Press (AP) that she had spoken with her husband and that he had sent her photos to prove he was free and fine.

Case of mistaken identity

He had been arrested by Greek authorities on Thursday after his name turned up on a European computer system that listed him as being wanted by German police.

On Monday, however, authorities confirmed that although the man's name was identical to that in the system, his father's name was different from that of the actual suspect.

German authorities who flew to Greece to interview Saleh confirmed that he was not the man being sought.

'I am free'

On Tuesday, Saleh himself sent AP a text message, saying: "I am still working on the release documents. I am free, but there are some measures in order to get a visa."

Saleh, who had been traveling on a cruise ship at the time of his arrest, had not been required to have a visa for Greece. His return may be further delayed by ongoing public transport strikes in Greece.

TWA Flight 847 in Beirut, Lebanon, June 14, 1985 (picture-alliance/AFP)

TWA Flight 847 landed in Beirut, Lebanon, several times over the course of the 17-day highjacking ordeal that left one dead

Suspects on FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list

The June 14, 1985 highjacking of TWA Flight 847, which was flying from Cairo to San Diego with several stops along the way, began when armed men suspected of having links to Hezbollah took control of the plane after a stop in Athens.

Pilot John Testrake spent the next 17 days crisscrossing the Mediterranean with 153 passengers and crew members on board. One man, 23-year-old US Navy diver Robert Stethem, was killed on the second day of the ordeal. The highjackers beat him unconscious, shot him in the head and threw his dead body onto the tarmac in Beirut.

Three men involved in the hijacking, Mohammed Ali Hammadi, Hasan Izz-Al-Din and Ali Atwa, remain on the FBI's list of Most Wanted Terrorists.

js/rc (AFP, AP)


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