The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the last legal appeal for former American hostages seeking compensation for their captivity in Iran three decades ago, leaving legislation newly introduced in Congress as the last chance to resolve their longstanding grievance.
A lower court, acting at the request of the State Department, previously blocked the hostages’ effort to win compensation from Iran, holding that the agreement under which they were released barred such claims. The former hostages had sued under a 1996 law that they argued allowed them to seek damages, and in August 2001 they won a judgment of liability, because Iran did not appear in court to defend itself. But the State Department argued that its ability to conduct foreign policy would be compromised if damages were awarded.
Read in full here.
Click here for a GQ piece from 2009, a sort of oral history where more than fifty men and women—hostages, hostage-takers, commandos from the ill-fated U.S. rescue mission, and Iranian and American politicians and policymakers were interviewed for the 30th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis.
Judge Sullivan in his 2002 ruling wrote that “‘Both Congress and the president have expressed their support for these plaintiffs’ quest for justice while failing to act definitively to enable these former hostages to fulfill that quest.”
Parade’s over. Iran is still big news, but no one is rushing to meet, or wait or put out a concert for the former hostages. Most especially, the State Department.
Support was easy when all it required was a yellow ribbon?
In 2002, NYT reported that the former hostages, and in some cases their survivors, sued Iran under the 1996 law. While the plaintiffs won their lawsuit by default in August 2001, the State Department sought dismissal, arguing reportedly that it needed to preserve its ability to make binding agreements.
And in so doing, it also sends a signal to all future state sponsored hostage takers that they can take any of our diplomats at any time and they will not suffer any consequences except a break in diplomatic relations, and limited visa issuance restrictions to its officials. If Iran is jerking our chain these days, that’s because we have taught it the wrong lesson. The end.
- Lawyer for Former Iran Hostages Wants Suit Reinstated (legaltimes.typepad.com)
- High court turns down former hostages in Iran (bangordailynews.com)