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H.R. 3358 Seeks Compensation For Americans Held In Iran

By Mahtab Farid, USI NEWS, Washington, DC

A bipartisan bill introduced in the House Wednesday seeks to make the government of Iran liable for its actions against Americans held hostage in the country from 1979-1981.

"For 444 days, 52 courageous Americans were held and tortured by Iranian terrorists," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida. "Almost twenty-five years after their release, justice eludes them. It is time to make things right."

Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, announced the legislation at a joint press conference on Capitol Hill with one of the bill's 15 other co-sponsors, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California. Sherman serves as ranking member of the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation.

"The bill I am introducing today seeks to make justice a reality for these victims of Iranian terrorism," Ros-Lehtinen said. "It does so by nullifying the prohibitions in the Algiers Accord relating to legal action by former hostages against the Iranian regime."

"I have long supported efforts to hold the Iranian regime and other sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions and to provide compensation to their victims," Sherman said.

The State Department entered into the Algiers Accords with Iran in January 1981. The series of agreements sought to prevent the hostages or their families from bringing suit against Iran.

Sherman criticized the department for its stance.

"Our own State Department has effectively sided with the Iranian regime against its own employees," he said. "What type of message does that send to those who serve our government and our military? And what message does it send those who seek to kill Americans?"

H.R. 3358 seeks to award each hostage approximately one-thousand dollars for each day of captivity, and five-hundred dollars per day for each spouse and child of the hostages.

The money to compensate these victims would come from funds of the Iranian regime that have been frozen in the United States, Ros-Lehtinen told USI NEWS.

Earlier this year, Ros-Lehtinen introduced H.R. 282, the "Iran Freedom Support Act," to hold the Iranian regime accountable for sponsoring terrorism and to support a transition to democracy in the country. The bill has more than 300 co-sponsors.

"If Iran can't do the right thing, we have sanctions. We have a lot of leverage that we can use against Iran," she said. "But to be against Iran is not against the Iranian people. There is a very clear distinction. The United States Congress stands firmly with the Iranian people

... Payvand News - 7/22/05 ... --

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