Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Republican Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) today launched a bipartisan legislative effort aimed at winning justice for 66 Americans held hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran, 31 years ago. One of the hostages, Kathryn L. Koob, is a resident of Waverly, Iowa.
Since their release, the Americans have been barred by the US government from bringing suit against Iran and seeking justice for atrocities committed against them while in captivity for more than a year.
The "Justice for the American Diplomats Held Hostage in Tehran Act" would double fines and penalties levied against US companies that do business with Iran and redirect half of the amount to a newly established trust for the American hostages, the estates of deceased hostages, and their families. Braley took up the cause after meeting several times with Koob.
"For more than three decades, justice has been denied to this group of American heroes," Braley said. "It's time for the United States to stand behind the men and women who put their lives on the line for us, enduring torture and unimaginable terror during their long ordeal. Our bill would finally bring compassion and closure to the hostages and their families, and close a dark chapter in our nation's history."
On November 4th, 1979, Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took a group of 66 American diplomats hostage. 52 Americans ended up being held captive for a total of 444 days. The Algiers Accords, signed on January 19th, 1981, resolved the hostage crisis, but stipulated that the hostages could not bring claims against Iran for their captivity.
In April, the New York Times profiled the hostages and their ongoing effort to win damages from Iran.