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Khamenei Visits U.S. Hostages

An old video of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei visiting some of the U.S. diplomats detained in Iran some 30 years ago has been posted on his website ahead of the anniversary of the U.S. embassy takeover and the hostage taking of U.S. diplomats and embassy staff.

In the video Khamenei, who was then a deputy defense minister and a member of parliament, is seen chatting with one of the hostages, who appears to be U.S. diplomat John Limbert, who speaks fluent Persian.

Khamenei asks him about the detention conditions and issues such as food, hygiene, or whether the hostages have access to books. “Any shortcomings, problems, or difficulties can be removed,” says Khamenei.

The U.S. hostage responds that there is only one problem. Khamenei quickly reacts by saying “right, the fact that you’re here” and then expresses hope that “the Iranian criminal,“ the shah, will be delivered to Iran and the hostages will be free to go. The hostage replies: “Inshallah.”

Later in the video Khamenei appears to be giving an interview to Iranian state television. He describes his meeting with the hostages and gives details about their detention, including what he says is the good library they have access to.

In the interview, Khamenei says that the hostages are “very happy” with their living conditions and the food they’re receiving. “American food is being specially prepared for them,” says Khamenei.

The U.S. diplomats were held for 444 days and were reportedly threatened, blindfolded, subject to lengthy interrogations, held in solitary confinement for long periods of time, and were forbidden to talk to each other.

Ironically, at least one of the hostage takers, Mohsen Mirdamadi, is in prison in Tehran now and is likely to be facing similar conditions. In fact, many of the former hostage-takers have now turned into critics of the Islamic establishment.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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