TEL AVIV (Oct. 14)
Two Algerian nationals detained by Israel since Aug. 14 were freed today and returned home by air via London and Libya. There was no official comment on the release of Maj. Khatib Jaloul and Ali Bel Aziz, both high ranking officials of the government in Algiers. It was not clear whether their release constituted “ransom” for Israelis held hostage or prisoner by any Arab state. (According to a report from London today the Algerians held a press conference at the airport in Tripoli. Libya. Maj. Jaloul confirmed that he was a private advisor to the President of Algeria. Israeli sources had identified his as the head of Algeria’s secret police. Mr. Bel Aziz, who also holds a government post, denied that he was a member of the Algerian intelligence service.) Israel took the two men into custody at Lydda Airport when their BOAC airliner landed in transit Aug. 14. Israeli authorities said they were being held for interrogation as nationals of a nation that has proclaimed itself at war with Israel. Sources here said that Israel might have freed the men sooner. But the mass airliner hijackings of Sept. 6 which delivered some 300 hostages into the hands of Arab terrorists in Jordan delayed their release. Israel refused to make any deal with the terrorists who reportedly made the release of the Algerians one of their conditions for freeing the hijacked passengers. It was expected at the time when they were first detained that they would be released quickly. Foreign Minister Abba Eban stated that it would be politically disadvantageous to hold them. But public pressure mounted against freeing the pair in view of the fact that Algeria had held passengers and crew of a hijacked El Al airliner captive for 39 days two years ago.