BEIRUT — Muslim kidnapers today released a videotape of American hostage Alann Steen, who appeared in good health despite his captors' earlier claims that he was dying, and condemned U.S. Mideast policy.
In the tape, delivered to the Beirut newspaper An-Nahar, Steen read a statement written in awkward English that suggested his captors wrote it.
It was the first communication from any group of kidnapers in Lebanon since April 2, when fellow American hostage Jesse Turner said in a videotaped message that Steen would die in a few hours.
Steen, 48, of Boston, said his captors, members of the secretive Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, had saved his life. He also condemned U.S. policy in the Middle East and said Islamic Jihad demanded the release of Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Blames U.S. Officials
"Once again I show up as a witness who is still alive, a witness that was thrown by American officials with his people into this problem," Steen said in the three-minute tape. "I know that they wish us a longer absence and even death."
Steen said his captors tried "all possible ways in order to save me because they are Muslims. I don't deserve all this but they have their sacred ideological motives that don't allow them to leave me to die."
Steen, wearing glasses and dressed in a black T-shirt, referred to American officials as "the responsibles," an expression that sounded as if it were translated directly from Arabic.
Gunmen Posed as Police
Steen and Turner, 39, of Boise, Ida., were kidnaped along with two other professors by gunmen posing as riot police on the campus of the U.S.-affiliated Beirut University College on Jan. 24.
The other two are Robert Polhill, 53, of New York City and Mithileshwar Singh, 60, a native of India and a legal resident alien of the United States.
"Remember that our issue will be always related to the release of the prisoners in the prisons of Israel that is occupying the land of Palestine," Steen said.
Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine has been demanding the release of 400 Arab prisoners by Israel as a condition for freeing the four professors.
Israel has refused to consider the kidnapers' demand and the United States said it would not bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government.
Twenty-three foreigners, including seven Americans, are missing after being kidnaped in Lebanon. In addition, Anglican church envoy Terry Waite vanished after leaving his Beirut hotel room Jan. 20 to meet with hostage-holders.