Missing Marine meets with his family in Beirut before heading to Germany

Wednesday, July 7th 2004, 6:00 pm
By: News On 6

A U.S. Marine who vanished last month following his apparent kidnapping in Iraq left Lebanon for a U.S. base in Germany Friday, Lebanese officials said.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was to be flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and would stay for several days, hospital spokeswoman Marie Shaw said. ``He's going to undergo debriefing and evaluation,'' she said.

The Navy was investigating whether the abduction of Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun _ who at one point was reported to be beheaded by his captors _ could have been a hoax.

The 24-year-old Lebanese-American disappeared June 20 from his base near the restive Iraqi city of Fallujah. On Thursday, he arranged for American officials to pick him up in Beirut and take him to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington.

Sami Hassoun, Wassef's older brother, told The Associated Press that the family met the Marine at the U.S. Embassy in northern Beirut late Thursday.

``We went there last night and saw him. We said goodbye to him and came back home. They (embassy officials) told us he will leave Lebanon today,'' Sami Hassoun said Friday, without elaborating.

Hassoun's other brother, Mohamad, said Thursday at his house in West Jordan, Utah, that he had spoken briefly with him by phone but couldn't offer any details about his disappearance.

``He sounded OK. I was told that he has lost some weight, but he is well,'' he said.