The fate of Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite remains a mystery two years after he left his Beirut hotel to negotiate the release of U.S. hostages.
No group has claimed to hold him, and the British government, which refuses to negotiate with terrorists, says no demands have been made. No photographs or videotapes have been released to prove Waite is alive.A British official said recently: "We believe Waite is alive simply because we've had no evidence to the contrary."
Western hostages freed since he vanished have reported seeing a man in an underground prison they believed was the 6-foot-7 Waite.
New rumors crop up almost every week: He was killed trying to escape Shiite Moslem extremists who held him; he was smuggled to Iran in a coffin to stand trial as an American spy; he will be ransomed for $7 million.
Fifteen foreigners are missing in Lebanon, including nine Americans, most of them believed held by Shiites loyal to Iran.
The longest held hostage is Terry A. Anderson, 41, chief Middle East correspondent of The Associated Press. He was kidnapped March 16, 1985.
The leftist daily As-Safir meanwhile reported Friday that four of the foreign hostages in Lebanon have been moved from a jail near Beirut to a new location.
The paper, which is close to the Syrian army command in Lebanon, did not disclose further details in its unattributed report.
The weekly magazine Ash-Shiraa said contacts were currently under way between "regional and international sides to reach a happy ending" to the hostage issue.
The report indicated Iran was not in full control of the kidnappers.
"The regional side that had originally issued the instructions for the kidnappings is not capable 100 percent now of obliging the kidnappers to release the hostages," the report said.