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Freed Hostage ‘Happy to Be Out of Beirut’

Associated Press

Freed hostage Jimmy Dell Palmer landed here today and declared he was “happy to be out of Beirut and with the American people.”

Palmer, 48, of Little Rock, Ark., was freed by his Shia Muslim captors in Lebanon after 12 days because he has a heart ailment. He flew from Beirut to Cyprus aboard a regularly scheduled Middle East Airlines flight.

“I feel fine,” he told reporters in Larnaca. “I’m just happy to be out of Beirut and with the American people.”

Palmer’s release left 39 other American hostages still in the hands of the Shias, who hijacked their TWA flight June 14.

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Asked if he had seen other hostages, he said: “I saw every hostage (Tuesday night). Every one of them is fine. They are not together, but they are fine.”

Visit by Red Cross

Palmer said he had seen “all 40" hostages in one place, where they had been gathered for a visit by a Red Cross team.

But later, he amended that to say he did not see the three crew members, who have been kept on the plane at the Beirut airport.

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Palmer added: “The great thing the hostages can see when we look at the newspapers and listen to the radio is that the American people are behind us.”

Asked about discussions the hostages have reportedly had with their captors about the Shia cause, Palmer replied, “I’m a typical American citizen who knows very little about the problems in Beirut.

“I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here. But I still don’t know very much about the problems here. All I can say is that I hope and pray that someday they’ll get their problems straightened out, and they have many.

“It’s difficult to understand what the problem is.”

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