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Beirut Letter Assails U.S. Over Hostages : Document Signed With Name of Captive From Huntington Beach

September 17, 1986|From Times Wire Services

BEIRUT — A letter purportedly written by American hostage David P. Jacobsen harshly criticized the U.S. government Tuesday for its handling of the hostage ordeal and urged former captives to pressure President Reagan to negotiate.

The three-page, handwritten letter in broken English, signed with Jacobsen's name, was delivered to a Western news agency in Beirut.

It was accompanied by a photograph of Jacobsen and a statement from the pro-Iranian, fundamentalist Islamic Jihad (Holy War) group urging negotiations on the hostages.

The group claims to be holding Jacobsen, 55, of Huntington Beach, and two other Americans, Terry A. Anderson and Thomas Sutherland. Jacobsen, director of American University Hospital in Beirut, was kidnaped May 28, 1985.

'Fear Possible Ending'

The letter began, "475 days and I David Jacobsen and my friends Anderson and Sutherland we feel homesick and our bodies are sick and our psychological state is bad. Also we fear the possible ending of our story."

It went on to compare the situation of the hostages in Lebanon to the case of U.S. journalist Nicholas Daniloff, who was accused of spying by the Soviets. Last week, he was released to the custody of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow as part of a negotiated deal in which a Soviet spy was turned over to the Soviet Mission in New York.

"Why was Reagan interested minute by minute with spy journalist Daneloff (sic) but he is not interested one minute in our story and he didnt (sic) do anything to solve it," the letter asks. It continues:

"Are we citizens from tenth degree? Are not we Americans? What are you waiting for? For us to die one by one."

Appeal to Ex-Hostages

The letter appealed to three former hostages--Father Lawrence M. Jenco, the Rev. Benjamin Weir and newsman Jeremy Levin--and to Anderson's sister, Peggy Say of Batavia, N.Y., to "continue your efforts because you are our only hope."

Those four Saturday urged the Reagan Administration to negotiate the hostages' release as it did in the Daniloff case.

In Huntington Beach, Jacobsen's son, Eric, said the letter with his father's signature "is not similar to other letters he has written. There's a possibility it was written by his captors. But that doesn't lessen the importance. The captors are communicating through him."

Eric Jacobsen accused the Reagan Administration of a "grave injustice" in negotiating on the Daniloff case while failing to give similar treatment to the situation of the Lebanon hostages."

"We want to point out to the American people that the President is willing to go before them and express his concern and outrage about Mr. Daniloff's jailing," the younger Jacobsen said. "He expressed willingness to get him out, and in a matter of days he is released. We don't get that in our case."

Jacobsen, speaking from his office in Santa Ana, also said the Daniloff case was not the first case in which Reagan has moved to negotiate. He pointed to the 52 American hostages who were passengers on a TWA jetliner hijacked to Iran last year; the U.S. government negotiated for their safe release.

"But all we get," he said, "is the same rhetorical remark: 'We don't negotiate with terrorists.' "

In Washington, White House spokesman Larry Speakes said Administration officials believe that Jacobsen apparently wrote the letter but that "there is good reason to question whether it was freely written."

Photo, Statement in Arabic

Jacobsen's letter was accompanied by a photograph of him in pajamas and a statement in Arabic from Islamic Jihad, which has demanded that Washington pressure Kuwait to free 17 of its comrades jailed for a series of bombings there. It urged the American people to "think deeply about the ignorant policy of the American government toward this issue" and try to change it.

Beside Jacobsen, Islamic Jihad has said it is holding Anderson, 38, Associated Press correspondent, and Sutherland, 55, dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut. It said it executed another captive, William Buckley, 57, political officer at the U.S. Embassy, but his body has never been found.

Two other Americans--Joseph J. Cicippio, 56, of Norristown, Pa., and Frank Herbert Reed, 53, of Malden, Mass.--were kidnaped last week in Beirut.

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