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Son Hopes Father May Be Freed With Hostages

Times Staff Writer

With hope escalating that the release of the 39 remaining American hijack hostages in Beirut may occur soon, the son of a Huntington Beach hospital administrator kidnaped in Lebanon a month ago is optimistic that his father may also be freed unharmed.

Eric Jacobsen, 28, said Thursday it would be wise for the Reagan Administration to include his father, David P. Jacobsen, and six other Americans abducted in Beirut during the past year in the conditions offered for the release of the American hijack hostages.

Secretary of State George P. Shultz said in San Francisco on Wednesday that the U.S. government would insist that all 46 American hostages be released “immediately and unconditionally.”

Jacobsen, whose father was kidnaped from the campus of the American University Hospital in Beirut on May 28, said he supported Shultz’s stance. The elder Jacobsen had served as administrator of the hospital since last December.

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“I found that very encouraging,” Jacobsen said. “It is the first public statement I’ve heard in regards to the other seven American hostages.”

The group Islamic Jihad (Islamic Holy War) has claimed responsibility for the abduction of Jacobsen and four other Americans kidnaped in Beirut since March, 1984. The captors of the American passengers of the hijacked TWA airplane on June 14 are Shia Muslims.

Nabih Berri, the Shia Muslim leader negotiating for the release of the hostages in exchange for the release of 735 Lebanese prisoners being held by Israel, has said he has no control over the fate of Jacobsen, 54, and the other six American hostages.

Pressure on Berri Asked

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However, Berri has promised to try to find out where and how those seven Americans are.

“The (U.S.) government should put pressure on Berri to find out about those other seven American hostages, although the (two situations) are totally unrelated,” the younger Jacobsen said in an interview.

Except for one newspaper interview, Jacobsen and his brother, Paul, and sister, Diane, had chosen to remain silent since their father’s abduction last month. But Eric Jacobsen said the media attention given to the hijacked American passengers prompted the family to speak out. In the past week, he has granted interviews to two national networks.

“We just felt that with all the media coverage that was going on with the hijacking, we noticed, along with the families of the other (six) hostages previously kidnaped, that they were being forgotten,” Jacobsen said. “We had no choice but to speak to the press in an effort to also bring them into the public’s awareness.”

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Although he has not received any official word from the State Department that the seven hostages will be included in negotiations for the release of the 39 hijacked passengers, Jacobsen said that condition would be “only right in that situation.”

“I don’t want to prolong the situation for these other victims,” he said. “But my dad and the other six Americans are also innocent victims and they deserve efforts to get them released, too.”


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