BEIRUT, MARCH 3 -- After 36 days in captivity, West German national Ralph Schray was freed at dawn today by pro-Iranian kidnapers and handed over to Syrian intelligence officers, who escorted him to Damascus, Syrian officials here said.
Schray, 31, was driven by Hezbollah gunmen in a convoy of three limousines to Syrian intelligence headquarters on Beirut's southern edge.
The self-styled Strugglers for Freedom had announced last night Schray's imminent release. In a communique laced with promises of goodwill gestures and veiled threats, the clandestine group spoke of having obtained "guarantees and a new round of commitments" mediated by Syrian President Hafez Assad.
Schray was captured close to a Syrian checkpoint in West Beirut on Jan. 27 in a bid to exert pressure on Bonn during the trial of Abbas Hamadei, who is accused of conspiracy in the abduction of two West Germans last year.
Schray is a lifelong resident of Lebanon although his father was German. This release leaves one West German, businessman Rudolf Cordes, in captivity. A senior adviser to the Syrians here hinted that a deal was in the making for the release of other foreign hostages. He said contacts involving Syria, Iran and western powers, including the United States, were under way to that end. Diplomats said they were not in a position to comment.