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France Expels Syrian Who Helped In Hostage Negotiations

May 4, 1988

PARIS (AP) _ A Syrian businessman who has undertaken several mediation missions for the release of French hostages in Lebanon was expelled from France, Arab diplomatic and French government sources said.

They said Interior Minister Charles Pasqua used a special administrative procedure that does not require judicial approval to expel Omran Adham, who is said to be close to President Hafez Assad of Syria.

In an interview today with Radio Monte Carlo, Pasqua neither confirmed nor denied the expulsion, but said:

″We cannot accept anyone of foreign nationality in our territory who, by his actions, hampers the efforts of the French government and risks causing harm to those who are being held hostage.″

Pasqua said Adham had not served as an ″intermediary for the French government since March 1986″ in negotiations aimed at freeing French hostages.

Adham left France on Tuesday by plane for another European capital after the expulsion order was signed by Pasqua, the sources said.

He has a Syrian diplomatic passport but is not on the official diplomatic list issued by the Foreign Ministry. Adham has lived in Paris for 11 years and his wife and four children are French.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pasqua, who is close to Premier Jacques Chirac, was annoyed by Adham’s statements to the media about an imminent release of French hostages just before the first round of presidential elections on April 24.

A close aide to Pasqua, Jean Charles Marchiani, made several trips to the Middle East in the weeks before athe voting to try to obtain the release of the hostages, who are being held by the pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad.

The French hostages are two diplomats, Marcel Fontaine, 45, and Marcel Carton, 62, and journalist Jean-Paul Kauffmann, 44. Islamic Jihad has claimed it killed a fourth French hostage, but his body has not been found.

French press reports said release of the hostages before the April 24 voting was imminent. They said Pasqua’s efforts to free them were designed to boost Chirac’s chances in the presidential campaign.

Chirac did not do as well as expected in the first round of voting and now faces President Francois Mitterrand in a runoff ballot Sunday.

Both Chirac and Mitterrand have said they have worked together closely to free the hostages.

Adham’s last known trip to Beirut occurred April 2.

The French hostages are among 22 foreigners, including nine Americans, missing in Lebanon. Terry Anderson, 40, chief Middle East correspondent of The Associated Press, was abducted March 16, 1985 and is the longest held.