Iran hostage crisis

(redirected from 444 Days)

Iran hostage crisis,

in U.S. history, events following the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran by Iranian students on Nov. 4, 1979. The overthrow of Muhammad Reza Shah PahleviMuhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi
, 1919–80, shah of Iran (1941–79). Educated in Switzerland, he returned (1935) to Iran to attend the military academy in Tehran. He ascended the throne in 1941 after his father, Reza Shah Pahlevi, suspected of collaboration with the
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 of Iran by an Islamic revolutionary government earlier in the year had led to a steady deterioration in Iran-U.S. relations. In response to the exiled shah's admission (Sept., 1979) to the United States for medical treatment, a crowd of about 500 seized the embassy. Of the approximately 90 people inside the embassy, 52 remained in captivity until the end of the crisis.

President CarterCarter, Jimmy
(James Earl Carter, Jr.), 1924–, 39th President of the United States (1977–81), b. Plains, Ga, grad. Annapolis, 1946.

Carter served in the navy, where he worked with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover in developing the nuclear submarine program.
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 applied economic pressure by halting oil imports from Iran and freezing Iranian assets in the United States. At the same time, he began several diplomatic initiatives to free the hostages, all of which proved fruitless. On Apr. 24, 1980, the United States attempted a rescue mission that failed. After three of eight helicopters were damaged in a sandstorm, the operation was aborted; eight persons were killed during the evacuation. Secretary of State Cyrus VanceVance, Cyrus Roberts,
1917–2002, U.S. secretary of state (1977–80), b. Clarksburg, W.Va., grad. Yale (B.A., 1939, LL.B., 1942). After seeing action in the Navy during World War II, Vance practiced law, becoming a respected international lawyer.
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, who had opposed the action, resigned after the mission's failure.

In 1980, the death of the shah in Egypt and the invasion of Iran by Iraq (see Iran-Iraq WarIran-Iraq War,
1980–88, protracted military conflict between Iran and Iraq. It officially began on Sept. 22, 1980, with an Iraqi land and air invasion of western Iran, although Iraqi spokespersons maintained that Iran had been engaging in artillery attacks on Iraqi towns
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) made the Iranians more receptive to resolving the hostage crisis. In the United States, failure to resolve the crisis contributed to Ronald Reagan's defeat of Carter in the presidential election. After the election, with the assistance of Algerian intermediaries, successful negotiations began. On Jan. 20, 1981, the day of President Reagan's inauguration, the United States released almost $8 billion in Iranian assets and the hostages were freed after 444 days in Iranian detention; the agreement gave Iran immunity from lawsuits arising from the incident.

In 2000 former hostages and their survivors sued Iran under the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, which permits U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments in cases of state-sponsored terrorism. The following year they won the lawsuit by default when Iran did not offer a defense. The U.S. State Dept. sought dismissal of the suit, arguing it would hinder its ability to negotiate international agreements, and a federal judge dismissed the plaintiffs' suit for damages in 2002, ruling that the agreement that resulted in their release barred awarding any damages.


See G. Sick, All Fall Down (1985).

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References in periodicals archive ?
'It has been 444 days since the historic change of the government, and it is timely for PH to review its manifesto and promises made in the last 14th general election.
Some 52 Americans were held in Tehran for 444 days, but later released unharmed.
Lawson must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence and receives credit for 444 days served in Kane County jail.
Later that year, Iranian students stormed the US embassy and held 52 Americans for 444 days -- an affront to US pride that still colours how Iran is viewed from Washington.
And for the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewellery" 1974: Judith Ward, 25, is jailed for life for killing 12 people by planting a bomb on an army coach on the M62 in Yorkshire 1979: 500 Iranian students loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini seize the US Embassy in Tehran, taking 90 hostages for 444 days 1980: Ronald Reagan (pictured) is elected President of the United States 1995: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is shot dead by an assailant as he leaves a peace rally in Tel Aviv 2008: Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected President of the United States
The crisis ended with the release of the hostages after a captivity of 444 days, from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.
1979 - Students seize US Embassy in Tehran and take diplomats hostage for 444 days.
The US and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since US embassy personnel in Tehran was taken hostage for 444 days starting in late 1979.
Jim McCafferty, 72, appeared in the dock in Belfast after spending 444 days on remand in prison.
The 72-year-old, from Raby Street in South Belfast, appeared in the dock after spending 444 days in custody in HMP Maghaberry in Co Antrim.
Embassy in Tehran and seized dozens of Americans, holding them hostage for 444 days.
She was an influential figure during the American 'hostage crisis' in 1979 where a group of Iranian students held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, acting as spokesperson for the student group to foreign press.