Second Saudi Hostage Free in Lebanon

Associated Press

Syrian forces today obtained the release of a Saudi Arabian held captive for 54 days in Lebanon, the second release of a foreign hostage this week.

The release of Khaled Deeb came two days after another Saudi was freed through the efforts of Syria and the mainstream Shia Muslim militia Amal.

"I am very happy to be free," a clean-shaven Deeb told reporters at a news conference in West Beirut.

The 23-year-old Deeb said he was kidnaped Jan. 26 in the predominantly Shia slums of south Beirut by "many gunmen."

Wasn't Beaten

"They kept me blindfolded all the time, but not handcuffed. I was not beaten," said Deeb, dressed in beige trousers and a blue-and-white jacket.

He was asked about the identity of his kidnapers and his place of captivity.

"I don't know," he replied.

A spokesman for Syria's military intelligence chief in Lebanon, Brig. Gen. Ghazi Kenaan, said Deeb was in good health. He said Justice Minister Nabih Berri's Amal militia also played a role in Deeb's release.

Bakr Damanhouri, an employee of the Saudi Embassy cultural section, was freed Wednesday after 66 days in captivity.

Both the Syrians and Berri declined to identify Damanhouri's kidnapers, saying that to do so would hamper efforts to gain the release of other foreign hostages.

24 Foreigners Held

Deeb's release leaves 24 other foreigners, including eight Americans, missing and believed kidnaped in Lebanon.

Deeb said he was leaving for the Syrian capital of Damascus "immediately" for a flight to Saudi Arabia. Syria is Lebanon's main power-broker with more than 25,000 troops stationed in the war-torn country.

Muslim-controlled Channel 7 television in West Beirut said an anonymous caller told the station that the Organization of Partisans of Islamic Jihad had abducted Deeb, who it said was the son of Ali Deeb, chief of security in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.

The leftist newspaper as-Safir has quoted unidentified sources as saying Deeb was a Saudi security agent sent to search for Damanhouri. The report was denied by Lebanese security officials.

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