Former hostage David Jacobsen says he thinks that hostage William Buckley died on June 3, 1985, five months before his Muslim captors said he had been killed.
"He was delirious. He was regurgitating. He obviously was running a very high fever," Jacobsen said of Buckley in an interview on NBC-TV's "1986," aired Tuesday night.
"The guards came to me because I was a hospital director and said, 'What can we do?' And I said you better take him to see, get a doctor to him. They said, 'We can't do that.' I made some suggestions to what they could do," said Jacobsen, who lives in Huntington Beach.
The former hostage said he never saw Buckley because he was blindfolded, but he sensed when Buckley died. "There was just a long, long silence. When you're in a small room . . . there are certain noises that are associated with death.
"And so I firmly believe that William died the evening of June the third."
Asked if Buckley was tortured, Jacobsen said, "I have no way . . . that's just adding to the speculation. I have no way of knowing what happened."
The Islamic Jihad, the pro-Iranian group believed to hold the hostages in Lebanon, claimed that it executed Buckley in October, 1985, after he confessed that he worked for the CIA. No body was ever found.
Probably Tortured, Paper Says
The Washington Post reported last week that Buckley was the chief of the CIA station in Beirut and one of the agency's leading experts on terrorism. The story said Buckley was probably tortured and died months before his captors reported his death.
Jacobsen, 55, the former administrator at the American University Hospital in Beirut, was released from captivity in late October.
He said that after Buckley's death, the hostages' captors provided better treatment.
"They brought us medicine. They brought a doctor in to see us. They even brought a dentist in. When the shelling came close, they moved us within the building to safer locations. They didn't want us harmed, OK. We were too valuable. We were precious to them."
Jacobsen also revealed that he once was "beaten on the soles of my feet" because the captors thought he purposely wrote a letter using bad grammar. Rather, he said, he followed their orders, writing down what they wanted, word for word.
"And then someone of the network television circled every mistake and said, 'Mistakes in dictation.' My captors felt that I, Dave Jacobsen, had made a mistake in their dictation, even though they verified every sentence and every word. They were not happy."
Of the beating, he said: "That hurts, but you don't die from it, OK."