The Revolutionary Justice Organization announced at dawn today it would release two French hostages.
The shadowy group, which previously had taken responsibility for kidnaping four French journalists March 8, said the hostages would be set free as a result of mediation by officials of the fundamentalist Shiite Moslem Hezbollah, or Party of God, Syria's President Hafez Assad and Algeria.
Intense behind-the-scenes negotiations during the past week between Iran, which supports Hezbollah, and France have prepared the ground for the release with detailed discussions over normalizing ties between the two countries. The Iranians reportedly demanded neutrality by France in the Persian Gulf war, the payment of a $1 billion loan by the shah of Iran for a nuclear project and a crackdown on Iranian dissidents operating in France.
An anonymous caller told the independent newspaper An Nahar the two Frenchmen would be released in front of its offices. However, the same newspaper said the caller said later the release would take place within 24 hours. Almost four hours after the call, there was no sign of the hostages.
The caller said the kidnapers would release two hostages on the basis of "new promises" by the French government to change its policy in the region and following the "humanitarian mediation by many people we trust, headed by our friends and comrades, officials of the Hezbollah movement." The communique also cited Syrian President Assad and Algeria as mediators.
In March the Revolutionary Justice Organization, a hitherto unknown group, said it had kidnpaed Georges Hansen, Jean-Louis Normandin, Philippe Rochot and Aurel Cornea, of the Antenne 2 television network. The kidnapers cited objections to France's intervention in Lebanese affairs and its support for the policies of President Amin Gemayel.