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Blumenthal Praises Unanimous Committee Approval of Bipartisan Legislation He Introduced to Compensate Iran Hostage Crisis Victims

Compensation Would Come From Fees Collected From Violations Of Iran Sanctions, Would Not Add To The Nation’s Debt

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) this week in praising Senate committee passage of their legislation that would properly compensate the 52 victims of the Iran hostage crisis for the 444 days they were held captive. The compensation would come from fees collected from violations of Iran sanctions.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed by voice vote the Justice for Former American Hostages in Iran Act of 2013, S.559, which was introduced by Blumenthal and Isakson and in March of this year.

Blumenthal and Isakson believe the 52 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days when Iranian radicals seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, in 1979 deserve more than the small compensation they received upon their release more than 30 years ago. Many of the hostages were terrorized and subjected to torture while held captive. In 1981, the hostages were freed by the Algiers Accords—an agreement between the U.S. and Iran that settled the crisis—that barred hostages from seeking damages for their imprisonment.


A group of 45 former hostages have sought to collect damages in court challenges over the years, but their efforts have been halted by the Algiers Accords, which was the deal brokered between the United States and Iran to release the hostages and prohibits the hostages from suing Iran. Isakson and Blumenthal’s legislation provides an alternative avenue for the victims to collect compensation without violating the Algiers Accords.


For 444 days, the victims of the Iran Hostage Crisis waited bravely to be freed. They have waited another 30 years to receive the restitution to which they are entitled from the government of Iran,” Blumenthal said. “These men and women deserve to be compensated for the unimaginable experience they endured, and today’s action by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee brings us one step closer to that reality. I applaud the Committee and Chairman Menendez for passing the Justice for Former American Hostages in Iran Act.”


I applaud the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their support of this legislation. The 52 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days deserve meaningful compensation for their horrendous captivity during the Iran hostage crisis, which unfolded on the nightly news 30 years ago and which has been brought back to light today by the Oscar winning film, Argo,” said Isakson. “I urge my Senate and House colleagues to quickly pass this bipartisan legislation so that those who have suffered will finally receive what they rightfully deserve. Congress must also pass this bill to send a signal to our Foreign Service members that we have their backs.”


Currently, the Department of Treasury enforces U.S. sanctions on Iran. The Isakson-Blumenthal legislation would direct the secretary of the Treasury to establish a fund that would be used to pay the claims to the hostages. The fund would be financed from a surcharge added to fines and penalties assessed on any business or person that does business with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.