Terry Anderson, the longest-held foreign hostage in Lebanon, complained in a videotape released today that the Reagan Administration appeared to be impeding his release and had done more to help rescue two trapped whales than to gain the release of hostages.
“I have been very close to being released several times over the past three years, but each time it seems that the U.S. government uses its influence to stop any agreement and I don’t understand this.
“I am not asking (President) Reagan to deal with terrorists, although Mr. (George) Bush did so in the Iran-Contra affair and TWA hijacking.” He did not elaborate.
Bush Denies Role
Bush, the GOP presidential candidate, has not previously been named as a negotiator in the 1985 jet hijacking.
The vice president has said he was not a key player in the sale of arms to Iran and was unaware of details and planning of it.
“Our problem could have been solved a long time ago without such complications as arms deals,” Anderson said.
In Los Angeles, Reagan’s chief spokesman accused Anderson’s kidnapers of “a cynical attempt” to influence the U.S. presidential election.
“I don’t believe Terry is saying any of these things; I think the kidnapers are saying these things,” spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.
News Agencies Contacted
Copies of the tape were delivered to two Western news agencies in Beirut four days after Anderson, 41, spent a fourth birthday in captivity. They were accompanied by a statement in Arabic from Islamic Jihad, the pro-Iranian Shia Muslim group which holds Anderson.
The American began his message, which lasted 2 minutes and 35 seconds, by identifying himself and saying the date was Oct. 30.
He urged the Administration to negotiate his release and appealed to the new U.S. President to end the plight of the hostages.
Anderson, Mideast correspondent for Associated Press, is the longest-held foreign hostage in Lebanon. There are 14 captives, including nine Americans.
Islamic Jihad, or Holy War, said in an accompanying statement that it provided the videotape “on the occasion of Terry Anderson’s birthday and in response to your letters, and according to his desire to send you a recorded message.”
Reads Prepared Statement
Anderson appeared relaxed as he read from the prepared statement. He was clean-shaven and wore eyeglasses. His hair was cut short and neatly combed. He was shown from the waist up, wearing a striped gray sweater.
“I am well and being well treated and I received your birthday greetings and as always I thank you very much,” he said.
Letters from family members and colleagues appeared in Beirut newspapers last week, and state-run television broadcast a one-minute film Thursday of Anderson’s daughter, Sulome, 3, singing “Happy Birthday.” She was born about four months after he was kidnaped.
“I heard on the radio of the generous and ambitious efforts to free three trapped whales a few days ago and the President’s thanks to the Soviet Union for its help. It is a warming story,” he said.
“That kind of cooperation and spirit is absolutely necessary to bring this situation to an end.”