World News

Greek police arrest 1985 TWA hijacking subject

Police say he matched the description

(CNN) - Greek police say they have arrested a 65-year-old Lebanese man on the island of Mykonos over the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985 in which a US Navy diver was killed.

The suspect, named by Lebanon's foreign ministry as Mohammad Saleh, was stopped on Thursday during a routine security check when his description matched those on a German warrant for his arrest, Greek police told CNN. He was also wanted by German authorities for a kidnapping in 1987.

"Based on instructions by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Gebran Bassil, the Lebanese embassy in Athens is following the case of Lebanese journalist Mohammad Saleh who has been detained by Greek police," the ministry said, according to Lebanon's state-owned National News Agency.

"It made the necessary phone-calls with the Syros police division where he was arrested -- requesting that he be granted a lawyer and a medic," the statement read.

"A charges d'affaires will head to Athens at 7am on Sunday to Syros island to meet with Saleh and to offer him consular assistance," the Ministry added.

"The suspect denies any involvement in the hijacking," police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos told CNN.

"He has been remanded in custody on the island of Syros and is to be transferred to a high security prison in Athens," the police spokesman added.

Greek police are cooperating with German authorities on the investigation, Chronopoulos said.

Hijackers seized control of the Boeing 727 aircraft shortly after it took off from Athens, en route to Rome, on June 14, 1985.

The terrorists -- militants with possible links to Hezbollah -- held more than 100 passengers aboard the plane as hostages, before gradually releasing them in stages over the course of two weeks. The hijackers had asked for the release of Lebanese Shia militants who were being held in Israel.

Some passengers were beaten and a US Navy diver on board the aircraft was killed.

Hijackers singled out 23-year-old US Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, after seeing his military I.D. He was tied up, beaten beyond recognition, shot in the head and his body dumped onto the tarmac in Beirut -- an image captured by television cameras and shown around the world.


LOCAL AND REGIONAL NEWS

THIS WEEK'S CIRCULARS