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Release of Kidnap Victim--a Business Section Story?

June 15, 1986

On June 4, the Business section of the Los Angeles Times-Orange County edition, carried a story by your staff writer Robert Hanley that was captioned "Kidnaped Fluor Employee Freed From Colombia."

The report went on to state that John Geddes, 56, who was freed June 2 reported that his fellow hostage Edward M. Sohl, 62, a construction superintendent "for San Francisco-based Bechtel," died of a heart attack on the night of May 17.

As the report states, the two men had been working on a pipeline under construction for Occidental Petroleum through the Colombian jungle. Apparently, they were captured on Dec. 10 during a terrorist raid on a remote section of the pipeline, according to a Bechtel spokesman.

The fact that two American citizens were kidnaped in Colombia is of far greater significance than the fact that they worked on a pipeline construction project for United States firms, one of which happens to be located in Orange County. What this has to do with the Business section of the Los Angeles Times is a mystery to me. What it has to do with is the freedom of American citizens, and I think that it is deplorable that such an item of news as this should not have received some front-page coverage, especially following the focus of attention which the media has played on acts of terrorism throughout the world, particularly as they affect American citizens.

Is the public to be deprived of knowledge concerning the activity of Colombian terrorists? The only other immediate reference to Colombia that comes to mind is, of course, related to drug trafficking, and while there is no question that drug trafficking is "big business," I do not recall reading about drug trafficking in Colombia as being part-in-parcel of the Business section of the newspaper. That particular matter usually receives front-page coverage.

It is my belief that you owe the public an apology and especially those families living in Orange County who today pray for the freedom of their kidnaped relatives, wherever they may be.


Newport Beach

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