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East German Sailor Defects in West Berlin

April 11, 1985|Associated Press

WEST BERLIN — A 41-year-old East German sailor defected to the West when his tugboat docked in the customs area of West Berlin to load some goods, authorities said Wednesday.

The sailor jumped off his boat last Friday and said he wanted to leave his Communist homeland on "political grounds," said spokesman Hans F. Birkenbeul of the West Berlin municipal government.

The defector was identified only as "Wolfgang P." West German authorities routinely withhold identities of defectors to protect their families left behind in East Germany.

A West Berlin customs spokesman who did not want to be identified said the tugboat's captain tried in vain to persuade the sailor to return to the boat. The captain then canceled his vessel's scheduled cargo run to Hamburg, West Germany, and returned to East Berlin.

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