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Lebanese Man back Home after Mistaken for Hijacker in Greece

Lebanese Man back Home after Mistaken for Hijacker in Greece

Wednesday, 25 September, 2019 - 11:45
People in the Lebanese city of Sidon rally on Monday for the release of Mohamed Saleh by Greek authorities. (NNA)

A Lebanese journalist is back home in Beirut after being mistakenly detained last week in Greece on suspicion of involvement in a 1985 TWA airline hijacking.

A Greek police statement said the name on the man's passport came up on a European police computer system as that of a man wanted by Germany over the hijacking, in which an American was killed.

Mohamed Saleh told reporters upon his arrival in Beirut Wednesday that he was charged by a "country that I never visited in my life."

He was referring to Germany.

Asked if he plans to take legal action against Greece and Germany, Saleh said he will discuss it with his lawyer and decide later.

Saleh, 65, was detained for five days while on a cruise ship touring southern Europe.

TWA Flight 847 was commandeered by hijackers shortly after taking off from Athens on June 14, 1985. It originated in Cairo and had San Diego as its final destination, with stops scheduled in Athens, Rome, Boston and Los Angeles.

The hijackers shot and killed US Navy diver Robert Stethem, 23, after beating him unconscious. They released the other 146 passengers and crew members on the plane during an ordeal that included stops in Beirut and Algiers. The last hostage was freed after 17 days.

Several Greek media outlets had identified the Mykonos detainee as Mohammed Ali Hammadi, who was arrested in Frankfurt in 1987 and convicted in Germany for the hijacking and Stethem's slaying.

Hammadi, an alleged member of the Hezbollah party, was sentenced to life in prison but was paroled in 2005 and returned to Lebanon.

Germany resisted pressure to extradite him to the United States after Hezbollah abducted two German citizens in Beirut and threatened to kill them.

Hammadi, along with fellow hijacker Hasan Izz-Al-Din and accomplice Ali Atwa, remains on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists. The FBI offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to each man's capture.

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