Iranian Defends Role in Holding Hostages
Barber, Ben, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
A former leader of students who held 52 Americans hostage in Tehran for 444 days until their release 20 years ago still blames America for the crisis and warned in a recent interview that any improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations was unlikely.
Massoumeh Ebtekar was the spokeswoman for the students at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran where U.S. diplomats were held, threatened with execution and finally released in 1981 on the day that President Carter stepped down and President Reagan took office.
Now Mrs. Ebtekar has become a "reformist," and a vice president of Iran in charge of the environment under President Mohammed Khatami.
Interviewed by telephone last week, she said that she had no regrets for holding the Americans hostage, and that the real responsibility for the crisis lay with American meddling in Iran's affairs.
She has just published a book, "Takeover in Tehran," which she said she wrote in 1991 and 1992 in English. It took until now to find an American publisher.
Her book and her contact with The Washington Times was approved at the highest level of the Iranian government, she said.
"I intended to establish a dialogue with the American people and with Westerners who are not familiar with the takeover event and at least present the Iranian version of what had happened, why it took place, what intention the students had in the 444 days," she said.
Asked if she felt regret for having imprisoned the hostages for so many months, Mrs. Ebtekar was unrepentant.
"I feel regret for the fact that two nations who have a long history of civilization, that stood for independence and freedom, have to come into such difficult circumstances due to the fact that the foreign policy of the American government was to intervene and dominate over Iranian affairs. …