Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
November 17, 2016
Document Release Date: 
July 3, 2000
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
March 27, 1966
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP75-00001R000300260046-7.pdf236.83 KB
0 WASHINGTON POST Approved For Release 20001118TH 'I'OIARDA.,7~ 01 R000300260046-7 MAR 2 7 1966 GUSTAV C. HERTZ U.S. seeks his release ritical Stage Reached n Talks on AID Official By Richard Harwood on os a f Writer Secret negotiations are under way e- ween the United States and the Vietco ' g or the release of a captive American g v rnment official, Gustav C. Hertz. The negotiations, which have -n w cached a critical stage, have been c n- ucted for months through a variety of hannels. If an agreement is reached, it' ill end a 14-month ordeal for Hertz, a igh-ranking Agency for International evelopment official from Leesburg, ., nd will climax one of the most fascin t- ng and convoluted undercover nego a- ions of modern diplomacy. The desperate, quiet effort to free h m' as involved since last summer the p r- onal intervention of a U.S. Sena r obert Kennedy), a fruitless ransom f- ort by the Central Intelligence Agen y, , he political fortunes of a North Afric n ationalist leader, the intercession f rivate critics of American policy in Viet- am, and the stability of the Saigon g - ernment. Continue Approved For Release 2000/08/03: CIA-RDP75-00001 R000300260046-7 Approved For Release 2000/08/03 : CIA-RDP75-00001 R000300260046-7 G 0 ways in the 1,,a(-:;-round, Shortly thereafter the Sena-! . with the iii"l;est stakes in the tor met secretly with Algerian' feet the political stability of! Vietcong were again willing! affair, were two helpless 'men ;Ambassador Cherif Guclai,, tile Saigon re,ime. to exchange Hertz for the ter.f who had never met - Hertz who, promised to personally! An alternative plan was pro- rorist Hai, that they had so; and the man offered in ex- take,up the matter with Presi. Posed, involving a broader ex- informed the South Vietnam.! change for his release, a Viet- 'dent Ben Bella. change of perhaps a dozen csc, but had received no reply. con" terrorist named Nguyen prisoners on each side, includ- Shortly thereafter, a new; Ben Bella Overthrown ill Hertz, But nothing g c o hi m u n i c a t i o n arrived i Van Hai, who was arrested in g came ' Saigon in March, 1905, for Ben Bella, an admirer of of this alternative through private channels from participation in the bombin~ the late President Kennedy, The next development had Algiers to the effect that the r 1sonal role in -the release, and jokes, went cycling one after.-begin, Ben Bella was over- tier the direction of the CIA, noon in the suburbs of Sai- thrown in a military coup on a ransom attempt was actual- that possibly he was expected June 19. ? k-, go to Algiers to accept cus- gon. lie left behind a gentle ly made. tod f H The story began early on r 0 i e o t intermediary a n d! sources in Saigon came -word Feb. 2 of :ast year. Hertz, a raised the subject with the that it might be possible to se- ,popular AID administrator ;NLF representatives. But be. cure Hertz' release through a with a fondness for practical fore serious negotiations could' '-nsom arrangement And un- initial results were en-'certain, although reports have ing a private approach to the The e g, The Algerians re-'t that at least part of it hasf South Vietnamese Embassy coTh ragin ported that the Vietcong were;. been recovered. here. The South Vietnamese or The failure of all these ef- responded, it is said, with an willing to exchange Hertz for'; forts was discouraging. ' How- offer to cooperate in any way the terrorist Hai who re-, ever, the undertaking was not possible. mained in custody in Saigon., abandoned. What subsequently occurred ' High-Level Discussion SANE Official's Role was a renewal of the original This proposal wastaken to offer-Hertz for Hai-and it is the highest councils of file In September, it was sug-l this offer that is the basis of ' American Government. Gen. :of that Sanford Gottlieb) the secret negotiations now Maxwell Taylor, a former :1m- of Bethesda, political action under way. bassador to South' VicLnarlldirector of the Committee for Will they bear fruit? From bail: home in the United of President Houari Boumedi- but Hertz was not released. 11 New Approaches Tried back . erne would be willing to con- Two explanations have been time the effort on behalf of `, All oboes h.the winter, rep. Hertz never returned from Hertz. Early in August, Am- offered. The first was that tilelresentatives of the Hertz t? ride and two nhorom ransom offer was fraudulent. family here remained in con. ,were to bassador Guelal brought the pass before the Viet. The `second was that at the last tact with U.S. officials. Sev- were confirmed what was matter to Boumedienne's at- minute the Vietcong turned oral new proposals were con- widely believed. He had betend agreed on to and take up the where here Ben President, down the offer. What hap- sidered and several new an- :cong come, as a captive, a civilian Bella had left off, pencd to the money is still un- proaches were tried, incliul- and deeply religious wife, and For the next several weeks, A large sum of money-re. five children, one of whom was there was uncertainty as to portedly $20,000-was turned studying for the priesthood whether the new government, over to "o-betweens in Saigon life hung in' the balance of events lie could not control, On April 7, the National Liberation Front, the political arm of the Vietcong, broad- cast a communique front Hanoi announcing that Hertz was in custody and would be executed if the terrorist Hai were put -to death by the gov- ernment of South Vietnam. Two days later, Hai was sen- tenced to death but that sen- tence was not to be carried out. The South Vietnamese spared his' life. By that time, the Hertz fam- ily had returned to its home in Leesburg where Mrs. Hertz shunned all publicity and all comment except for one re.l c,uest: "Please be prayerful.", Nearby was the family of licrl brother-in-law, A. Burke Hertz, an Alexandria lawyer. Weeks passed with no sign that his captor intended! to let him ggo. .who was serving as a consult- a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE), might be in a position to make ant to 'the President, reported i ,,,,,,, -- ...:.z ~ _ ,.,r ,. _ _ terms being discussed in gierc Although Gottlieb bas de- preted to mean that Sen. Kennedy was to have a per- y o ertz. i But, again, nothing came of no inkling of the Vietcong at- titudq has recently been re- ceived, and on- the basis of past failures and frustration no i d nne to cunfirin any part undue optimism It WdS al'gUEd i.]hat the in the Hertz a?fair, it is un- here. There is hope, however, United States had no control derstood that hq communicat. that an early response will he over prisoners of the Sai gon received. ed by letter with contacts in government and, there,''orc,'Algiers and received .a favor. Hertz has not been seen for! could make no valid exchange able response. He';'was in. months but the assumption is i offer. It was further argued;formed, it is reported, that the that he is alive and well. that 'the release of the terror-r ist at U.S. insistence might af-.1 Kennedy's Help Sought I At this point Sen. Kennedy, was approached by representa-I tives of the Hertz family. They thought he mig=ht, in some) way, be able to help. On the advice of friends, Kennedy decided that an ap- proach to the Vietcong through Algerian government fficiais might be fruitful. The LF had representatives in Al- iers who were in regular con- act with the Algerian gov- rnment. Kennedy broached the idea o the White House where the nofficial response was or- ble. ApproveaaForiRelease 2000/08/03: CIA-RDP75-00001 R000300260046-7