BONN (Nov. 20)
The release of two Western hostages in Lebanon on Monday and the imminent release of others is expected to increase pressure on Germany to free a pair of Arab terrorists serving long prison terms here.
Diplomatic sources confirmed Tuesday that German officials are consulting with their allies about the fate of the brothers Mohammed and Abbas Hamadei.
In August, German authorities rejected suggestions that the Hamadeis would be included in any global prisoner swap. But in September, a diplomatic source refused to rule out an eventual pardon of the brothers.
The United States is expected to balk at any deal, especially since it had tried in vain to persuade the Germans to extradite Mohammed Hamadei for trial in a U.S. court.
He was tried instead in Germany for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner and the murder of a U.S. Navy diver. Mohammed was sentenced to life imprisonment and Abbas to 13 years for his role in the kidnapping of other Germans in Lebanon as a way to free his brother.
Those Germans were ultimately released. But two other Germans, Heinrich Strubig and Thomas Kemptner, were kidnapped in May 1989 and are still held hostage by extremist groups in Lebanon. The kidnappers are demanding immediate freedom for the Hamadeis or the promise of pardons in the near future.
The kidnappers also insist that Israel release its Arab detainees.