Greek police released from custody a 65-year-old Lebanese journalist mistakenly arrested as suspected hijacker of the TWA Flight 847 in 1985. A grave misunderstanding as the man’s name was matching one of the fake names the said hijacker was using.
“The arrested 65-year-old is likely to have nothing to do with the wanted hijacker,” Greek Police said in a statement late on Monday.
Lebanese journalist Mohammed Saleh was arrested on Thursday, September 19, 2019, during the passport control at the port of Mykonos following an arrest warrant issued by German authorities. He had disembarked a cruise ship that was touring the islands in the Aegean Sea.
The man was taken to prosecutor on the neighboring island of Syros who ordered his arrest. He remained in custody until late Monday. He has reportedly moved to a hotel room.
During his detention, the Lebanese journalist and his family claimed a “mistaken identity.” They told Lebanese media that he was a journalist from Sidon. His lawyer submitted documents showing that he was working at a Lebanese newspaper, when hijackers took control of TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome.
Greek authorities did not reveal the name of the arrestee, however, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry and his wife did so. The Ministry and the Lebanese Journalists’ Union noted that Saleh is a renowned journalist who used to work for leading Arab newspaper As-Safir.
While Greek Police was waiting for confirmation by the Germans, investigation continued. It turned out that the pictures of the arrestee and the hijacker did not match.
Police in Greece is now waiting for the German authorities for a comparison of fingertips.
“This is probably a great misunderstanding of a synonym in the relevant Interpol warrant. But we are waiting for the official document of the German authorities to check his fingerprints of the arrestee with those of the wanted gunman, “police officials said.
In other statements police said that they were forced to a press release regarding the arrest after the incident was leaked to the press.
According to the German arrest warrant, hijacker Mohammed Hammadi was wanted on terrorism offenses and in particular on hijacking and abduction in 1985 and 1987.
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