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Hostages Sue for Compensation

bkyser on Apr 25th 2012

In August 2001, the American hostages held in Iran for 444 days sued Iran. The hostages won their case due to default, because Iran failed to represent itself in court. However, in 2002, a federal judge ruled that the hostages are unable to receive compensation from Iran because the agreement that they were released under does not allow for such lawsuits.

Judge Sullivan, the judge in charge of this case, criticized the American government for failing to provide compensation and aid to the hostages after their release.

The hostages and their survivors sued Iran using a law issued in 1996; that law was the Antiterrorism Act, issued by Congress. This act “removed immunity of foreign governments in cases of state-sponsored terrorism.” Under this act, the hostages should have been able to sue Iran; however, the Algiers Accord, which began under the Carter administration and followed into the Reagan administration, prevented this from happening. In this accord, America gave Iran immunity from any cases resulting from the hostage taking. Congress reacted to this accord by correcting a typographical error that would allow the citizens taken hostage by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to sue Iran. Despite this correction, both President Bush and the State Department promoted the Algiers Accord and believed that it should be upheld. Many people, including a Marine who was a guard at the American Embassy in Tehran at the time, spoke out against the inability of the hostages to sue. Suing Iran would allow the hostages to receive compensation. This compensation would be taken from Iran’s assets that are currently frozen in the United States.

Here is the link to the 2002 article with the details from this case.

MATTHEW L. WALD, “Judge Rules Iran Hostages Can’t Receive Compensation” The New York Times, April 19, 2002, http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/19/world/judge-rules-iran-hostages-can-t-receive-compensation.html (accessed April 25, 2012).

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