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Tehran embassy hostages awarded compensation decades after ordeal

Recent legislation in the US allows former hostages of the Iran embassy crisis to receive compensation. The new law comes 35 years after the hostages were released following 444 days of captivity.

Near the end of 2,000 pages of a spending deal passed by the United States Congress last week is a provision that provides compensation for the hostages, their spouses, and children. The victims have fought for decades to receive compensation for the ordeal that saw

Iranian students storm the American embassy in Tehran

in November 1979 and take embassy staff hostage. They were released on January 20, 1981.

The New York Times called attention to the clause, officially titled the "Compensation for United States Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism Act," in an article published on Christmas Eve. Other incidents included in the acts include the 1998 bombings of American embassies in East Africa.

Victims of the Tehran embassy crisis are entitled to a share of the fund, which in total amounts to $1 billion (910 million euros). There are 37 of the 53 hostages still alive today, and they will be entitled to $10,000 for each of the 444 days they were held in captivity. Surviving spouses and children of the hostages are entitled to receive a lump sum of $600,000.

The bill also appoints a special master in charge of managing claims to the fund.

Although the victims of the hostage crisis have been campaigning for years to receive compensation, several legal obstacles – including the issue of how their claims would be funded – could never be resolved. As part of the agreement that got the hostages freed, they were barred from making a claim against the Iranian government.

Now, in a settlement with the US government for violating sanctions against Iran, Cuba, and Sudan, French bank BNP Paribas must pay a settlement of $9 billion. The spending bill earmarks some of this money to go directly into the fund for victims of state-sponsored terrorism.

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