After 68 days as a captive of Marxist guerrillas in Central Africa, 22-year-old Kenneth Stephen Smith of the United States has been freed.
After 68 days as a captive of Marxist guerrillas in Central Africa, 22-year-old Kenneth Stephen Smith of the United States has been freed. He arrived by plane in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania on Saturday (26 July) where he was greeted by two young women who had been kidnapped with him. His father and U.S. officials were also on hand to greet him.
The two women, 21-year-old Carrie Jane Hunter of the United States, and 25-year-old Emilie Van Zinnico Bergmann of the Netherlands, were kidnapped on 19 May along with Mr Smith and a fourth woman, 24-year-old Barbara Smuts of the United States, as they worked at a chimpanzee research station near Kigoma on the Tanzanian shore of Lake Tangonyika.
The Kidnappers, the outlawed Marxist Popular Revolutionary Party of the Congo (PRP), ferried them across the Lake to a hideout in Zaire. They released Miss Hunter shortly after the kidnapping to deliver the ransom demand.
In subsequent negotiations the guerrillas agreed to free their hostages after payment of a reported 20,000 sterling (44,000 U.S. dollars). Miss Smuts and Miss Bergmann were freed on 28 June but for some reason, still unexplained, Mr Smith was held captive until yesterday.
At the airport the young hostage was presented with a bottle of champagne and given a garland by his colleagues. He said, "I don't know what to do because I've never been famous before." He was bearded and appeared healthy. A representative from the U.S. embassy was also on hand to greet him.
The ransom money was raised by public subscription, the students' parents, and Stanford University in the United States where all four victims are students.
In one of the early efforts to comply with the ransom demands, a Stanford professor was fired on by a Zaire gunboat as he tried to cross the Lake to deliver the ransom money in a black plastic wrapper.