BERLIN -- A Lebanese man serving a life sentence for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner and killing of a U.S. Navy diver has been paroled after 19 years, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.
Mohammed Ali Hamadi was released from prison and has left Germany, said Doris Moeller-Scheu, spokeswoman for the Frankfurt prosecutor's office. She said she did not know his destination.
Hamadi's case came up for a court-mandated review, and he was released after an expert assessment and a hearing, she said.
TWA flight 847 from Athens, Greece, to Rome was hijacked to Beirut, Lebanon, where the hijackers shot U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, 23, of Waldorf, Md., and dumped his body on the tarmac.
German federal officials declined to comment extensively and said the case was a matter for state authorities. Justice Ministry spokeswoman Eva Schmierer said Germany did not have any request from the United States for Hamadi's extradition.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Martin Jaeger, said there was no connection between Hamadi's release and the recent freeing of former hostage Susanne Osthoff, a German woman released over the weekend after spending more than three weeks as a captive in Iraq.
Stethem, 23, was beaten and shot on June 15, 1985, while the plane was in Beirut. He was the only casualty during the hijacking ordeal, in which 39 Americans were held hostage for 17 days. He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart decorations, and a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer is named in his honor.
Hamadi was arrested at the Frankfurt airport on Jan. 13, 1987, when customs officials discovered liquid explosives in his luggage.
U.S. authorities had requested his extradition so he could stand trial in the United States, but the Germans, who have no death penalty, insisted on prosecuting Hamadi.