39. Editorial Note

On November 19, 1979, the White House released the following statement:

“Three of our hostages in Tehran have been released and have left Iran. After a brief period of rest and care, they will be reunited with their families here in the United States. The remaining hostages must also be released. Their detention is without justification. The Government of Iran is responsible for achieving their immediate and safe release, and the United States has the right to expect that Iran will do so. The specter has been raised of other American diplomatic hostages being placed on trial. Such a step would be a further flagrant violation [Page 96]of elementary human rights, religious precepts, and international law and practice. Worldwide outrage at the detention of the hostages would be greatly heightened by any attempt to put these diplomatic personnel on trial.” (Public Papers: Carter, 1979, Book II, pages 2141–2142)

According to telegram 300145 to all diplomatic posts, November 19, Khomeini had repeatedly endorsed the students’ declaration that those hostages not released would be tried as spies by a revolutionary court under Islamic law. (Department of State, Records of the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Iran Desk, Lot 81D263, Hostages Released/Escaped)