Kidnapers Say They Still May Kill Hostage

From Times Wire Services

Muslim kidnapers declared Tuesday they are still considering the "execution" of French hostage Jean-Louis Normandin, a day after the captive said in a videotape that his abductors have suspended a decision to kill him.

The threat came from the Revolutionary Justice Organization in a statement delivered to the Arabic newspaper An Nahar.

"The organization announces that the execution of the spy, Normandin, was not postponed and was not canceled," said the one-page Arabic-language statement.

"It (the execution) is still taken into consideration at any time until we are certain about the intentions and promises which, if fulfilled, will lead to very positive and speedy results that will solve this issue," the statement said.

The new statement came a day after another pro-Iranian Muslim group, the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, said that Alann Steen, a 48-year-old American teacher it is holding hostage, is so ill he may die within 10 days. The group offered to trade him for 100 Arab prisoners held in Israel.

But Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on Tuesday rejected negotiations with Steen's kidnapers, saying: "It is clear that this is blackmail, and we won't enter into talks with these types of organizations."

In Washington, White House spokesman Roman Popadiuk said: "We hold the captors responsible for the safety of the hostages and we will not pressure any third parties into giving in to terrorists' demands."

In West Beirut, Steen's wife again appealed to her husband's captors to free him so he can receive medical treatment.

"I ask if they believe in the word humanitarian, that they release him and get him into a hospital at this time," a tearful Virginia Steen told reporters at Beirut University College, where her husband, formerly of Boston, and three of his colleagues taught and where they were seized last Jan. 14.

Besides Steen, the group holds Robert Polhill, 53, of New York City; Jesse Turner, 39, of Boise, Ida., and Mithileshwar Singh, 60, an Indian with resident alien status in the United States.

Meanwhile, former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Jordan from Damascus on Tuesday after meeting with President Hafez Assad, who assured him Syria is working for the release of the 24 foreigners, including eight Americans, held hostage in Lebanon.

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