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Cablegate: Possible Release of U.S. Hostage Held by Pkk

O 291227Z OCT 93
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8873
INFO AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L ROME 018848


DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR EUR/SE, S/CT, CA/OCS

FROM EMBASSY VATICAN/MESSAGE NO. 569/93

E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR
TAGS: PREL VAT TU NZ US
SUBJECT: POSSIBLE RELEASE OF U.S. HOSTAGE HELD BY PKK

1. CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT.

2. SUMMARY: THE PKK HAS TOLD A ROME-BASED VOLUNTARY
ORGANIZATION, THE SANT'EGIDIO SOCIETY, THAT IT IS
WILLING TO RELEASE A U.S. HOSTAGE TO A SANT'EGIDIO
REPRESENTATIVE ACCOMPANIED BY A U.S. OFFICIAL.
SANT'EGIDIO HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN SECURING
RELEASE OF FOREIGNERS HELD BY THE PKK. THIS MESSAGE
REQUESTS GUIDANCE. END SUMMARY.

3. ON 28 OCTOBER A CONTACT AT ROME'S SANT'EGIDIO
SOCIETY TOLD EMBASSY VATICAN DCM THAT THE TOP LEADERSHIP
OF THE PKK HAD EXPRESSED WILLINGNESS TO RELEASE A U.S.
HOSTAGE BEING HELD BY THE PKK. HE DESCRIBED THE
INDIVIDUAL AS A MR. STARGER, AN ENGLISH TEACHER WHO HAD
BEEN WORKING IN ISTANBUL. STARGER WAS BEING HELD IN A
GROUP THAT INCLUDED A COLLEAGUE OF HIS FROM NEW ZEALAND
AND AN UNIDENTIFIED DUTCHMAN.

4. THE PKK OFFER HAD BEEN MADE TO ANDREA RICCARDI, HEAD
OF THE SANT'EGIDIO SOCIETY, DURING A CONVERSATION THE
PREVIOUS WEEK IN DAMASCUS. THE PKK SAID THEY WOULD
RELEASE STARGER, AND PRESUMABLY THE OTHER TWO HOSTAGES,
TO AN EMISSARY OF SANT'EGIDIO AND A U.S. OFFICIAL.
RICCARDI ASKED IF THE RELEASE COULD BE DONE IN LEBANON
OR SYRIA, BUT PKK INSISTED THAT THEY ONLY FELT SAFE
OFFERING THE RELEASE IN TURKEY.

5. NOTE: SANT'EGIDIO IS A ROME BASED VOLUNTARY
ORGANIZATION WELL-KNOWN TO THE U.S. GOVERNMENT.
RICCARDI WAS ONE OF THE MEDIATORS IN THE PEACE PROCESS
LEADING TO THE END OF THE MOZAMBICAN CIVIL WAR. ANOTHER
OF THE MEDIATORS, DON MATTEO ZUPPI, WAS SENT TO EASTERN
TURKEY IN SEPTEMBER TO RECEIVE THE RELEASE OF AN EARLIER
GROUP OF HOSTAGES (SEVERAL ITALIANS, A NEW ZEALANDER,
AND A GERMAN). END NOTE.

6. DCM ASKED IF SANT'EGIDIO HAD BEEN IN TOUCH WITH
ANYONE ELSE ON THIS OFFER. THE NEW ZEALAND AMBASSADOR
IN ROME, PETER BENNETT, HAD BEEN INFORMED OF THE PKK
MESSAGE AND WAS SEEKING INSTRUCTIONS FROM WELLINGTON.
DCM ASKED WHETHER THE PKK HAD MADE ANY COMMENT ON THE
LEVEL OF REPRESENTATIVE TO WHOM THEY WOULD RELEASE
STARGER, WHETHER A NON-OFFICIAL AMERICAN MIGHT SUFFICE,
OR WHETHER IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO SECURE RELEASE SIMPLY
TO A SANT'EGIDIO REPRESENTATIVE. CONTACT SAID THERE HAD
BEEN NO DISCUSSION ON THIS POINT, BUT HE JUDGED THAT A
REPRESENTATIVE AT LESS THAN AMBASSADORIAL LEVEL WOULD
SUFFICE. HE DID NOT KNOW IF THE PRESENCE OF AN AMERICAN
REPRESENTATIVE WOULD BE ESSENTIAL.

7. DCM SAID HE WOULD REPORT THIS INFORMATION TO
WASHINGTON AND SEEK GUIDANCE. HE CAUTIONED THAT
WASHINGTON WOULD SCRUTINIZE ANY RELEASE SCENARIO
RIGOROUSLY TO AVOID CONFLICT WITH STRONG U.S. POLICY ON
TERRORISM.

8. DCM SPOKE WITH NEW ZEALAND AMBASSADOR BENNETT EARLY
29 OCTOBER. BENNETT CONFIRMED HIS CONTACT WITH
SANT'EGIDIO. HE SAID THAT THE SEPTEMBER HOSTAGE RELEASE
BY THE PKK HAD NOT INCLUDED AN OFFICIAL PRESENCE, BUT
THERE HAD BEEN MUCH PUBLICITY ON ITALIAN AND GERMAN
TELEVISION. BENNETT, WHO EXPRESSED A KEEN DESIRE TO
STAY IN TOUCH ON DEVELOPMENTS, SAID U.S. AND NEW ZEALAND
AUTHORITIES IN ANKARA WERE IN CONTACT ON THIS ISSUE.

FLYNN

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