US Hostages to Receive Compensation

December 28, 2015
Personnel of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran who were held for 444 days in Iran from 1979 to 1981 will receive up to $4.4 million each in compensation. The provision was signed into law as part of a massive funding bill signed by President Obama on December 18. Each of the 53 hostages or their estates will receive some $10,000 for each day of their captivity. The 1981 Algiers Accords that led to the hostages’ release barred the Americans from taking legal action against Iran. The compensation will bring the long-standing issue to a close.
 
The funds will come, in part, from a $9 billion penalty paid by French bank BNP Paribas for violating sanctions on Iran, Cuba and Sudan. Some $1.1 billion of the penalty is earmarked for compensation of victims of state-sponsored terror attacks. Victims of other state-sponsored attacks are also eligible for benefits under the new law. The fund, however, will reportedly not cover all outstanding claims. But it will remain open for 10 years and can be replenished.
 
On December 28, Iranian lawmakers introduced a bill that would seek damages from the U.S. government for loss of life and property damage related to 11 cases. The first on the list is the CIA-led 1953 coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh’s government and restored the monarchy. Lawmakers also said that Washington should pay compensation for the more than 223,000 Iranians who were allegedly killed and 600,000 who were allegedly injured “due to American intelligence, political and military cooperation” with Saddam Hussein during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.
 
In October, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review an appeal by Iran’s central bank challenging lower court ruling that allowed Iran’s frozen assets to be turned over to more than 1,300 American victims or surviving family members who won civil judgements holding Tehran liable for the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. 
 
The following is an excerpt from the relevant section of the U.S. spending bill.
 
SEC. 404. COMPENSATION FOR UNITED STATES VICTIMS OF STATE
SPONSORED TERRORISM ACT.
 
(c) ELIGIBLE CLAIMS.—
 
(1) IN GENERAL.—For the purposes of this section, a claim is an eligible claim if the Special Master determines that—
 
(A) the judgment holder, or claimant, is a United States person;
 
(B) the claim is described in paragraph (2); and
 
(C) the requirements of paragraph (3) are met.
 
(2) CERTAIN CLAIMS.—The claims referred to in paragraph (1) are claims for—
 
(A) compensatory damages awarded to a United States person in a final judgment—
 
(i) issued by a United States district court under State or Federal law against a state sponsor of terrorism; and
 
(ii) arising from acts of international terrorism, for which the foreign state was determined not to be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States under section 1605A, or section 1605(a)(7) (as such section was in effect on January 27, 2008), of title 28, United States Code;
 
(B) the sum total of $10,000 per day for each day that a United States person was taken and held hostage from the United States embassy in Tehran, Iran, during the period beginning November 4, 1979, and ending January 20, 1981, if such person is identified as a member of the proposed class in case number 1:00-CV-03110 (EGS) of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia; or
 
(C) damages for the spouses and children of the former hostages described in subparagraph (B), if such spouse or child is identified as a member of the proposed class in case number 1:00-CV-03110 (EGS) of the United States Court for the District of Columbia, in the following amounts:
 
(i) For each spouse of a former hostage identified as a member of the proposed class described in this subparagraph, a $600,000 lump sum. (ii) For each child of a former hostage identified as a member of the proposed class described in this subparagraph, a $600,000 lump sum.

 

Click here for the bill’s full text.