News Branch Navy

Police arrest suspected terrorist for 1985 hijacking in which Navy diver Robert D. Stethem was murdered

Navy diver, Steelworker 2nd Class Robert Stethem was brutally beaten and shot on June 15, 1985. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek police have arrested a 65-year-old Lebanese man suspected of involvement in the 1985 hijacking of a Trans World Airlines (TWA) plane in which a U.S. navy diver was killed.

A Greek police official said on Saturday the suspect had disembarked from a cruise ship on the island of Mykonos on Thursday and that his name came up as being wanted by German authorities.

He was also wanted in connection with a 1987 kidnapping crime, possibly related to his release in return for the freeing of two German citizens held hostage by his accomplices in Lebanon, the source said.

The suspect was being held in a high-security prison until German authorities identify him as the person wanted, the source added.

The German federal prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the case.

The TWA 847 flight from Cairo to San Diego with several en route stops was hijacked shortly after taking off from Athens in 1985. The hijackers demanded the release of Shi’ite Muslim prisoners from Israeli custody.

The passengers and crew endured a three-day intercontinental ordeal. Some passengers were beaten and a U.S. Navy diver who was on board the aircraft was beaten and murdered. Dozens of passengers were held hostage over the following two weeks.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Michele Kambas, Additional reporting by Thomas Escritt in Berlin,; Editing by Ros Russell)