A 65-year-old Lebanese man arrested recently in Greece in connection with the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847, in which a US Navy diver was killed, was released after police said it was a case of mistaken identity.
Among other issues, the age of the person arrested on the island of Mykonos didn’t match that of the terrorism suspect, a US official told CNN. A Greek police report confirmed the release.
The man, named by Lebanon’s foreign ministry as Mohammad Saleh, was stopped September 19 during a routine security check when his description matched those on a German warrant, Greek police told CNN. German authorities were looking for a suspect in a 1987 kidnapping.
“The suspect denies any involvement in the hijacking,” police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos told CNN after the arrest.
He was released September 23. German authorities said they will not be asking for his extradition.
Hijackers seized control of the Boeing 727 aircraft shortly after it took off from Athens, en route to Rome, on June 14, 1985.
The terrorists – militants with possible links to Hezbollah – held more than 100 passengers aboard the plane as hostages, before releasing them in stages over the course of two weeks. The hijackers had asked for the release of Lebanese Shia militants who were being held in Israel.
Some passengers were beaten and a US Navy diver on board the aircraft was killed.
Hijackers singled out 23-year-old US Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, after seeing his military I.D. He was tied up, beaten beyond recognition, shot in the head and his body dumped onto the tarmac in Beirut, Lebanon – an image captured by television cameras and shown around the world.
CNN’s Elinda Labropoulou reported from Athens, Nada Altaher reported from London and Evan Perez reported from Washington.