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"Diplomatic Mail #33"

On the night of November 17, 1964, United Arab Airlines Flight 784 was preparing to take off from Rome's Fiumicino Airport, bound for Cairo, Egypt, when a minibus from the embassy of the United Arab Republic pulled up. Two diplomats began putting a wardrobe trunk labeled "Diplomatic Mail #33" aboard the plane. Italian customs officials were routinely clearing it when they heard someone whimpering, in Italian, "Help! Assassins!" from inside the trunk. The Egyptians fled, with Italian police in pursuit.

After a wild chase, a police car finally forced the van to halton the road to Rome. When the police opened the trunk they found Mordecai Luk, a 28-year-old Israeli who reportedly had defected to Egypt in 1961, bound, gagged, drugged, and strapped to a chair; a steel device held his head, and built-in boots imprisoned his feet. Marks inside the trunk indicated it had been similarly used before.

Luk told police he spoke 10 languages, including Hebrew and Arabic, and that he had been paid by the United Arab Republic to "supply them with information sooner or later." He had a "cover job" as a tourist interpreter in Naples, Italy. The Italian government subseuently deported Luk to Israel, where it was said that he was a deserter from the Israeli army, and ousted his abductors. It was assumed, but never proven, that Luk was actually an Israeli double-agent who had been "unmasked" by the Egyptians, nor was it ever determined who else had been "transported" via "Diplomatic Mail 33."

the infamous "Diplomatic Mail 33" trunk
Diplomatic Mail 33 trunk

The World Book Year Book
Chicago, Illinois: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1965

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The Robinson Library >> In The Year... >> 1964

This page was last updated on June 08, 2017.