444 Days

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Shortly before the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in I979, the Shah or former monarch and dictator of the country fled. In late October 1979 the Shah was admitted to the United States which served as his most powerful ally. The Shah’s entrance to the States created an immediate outcry in Iran as the public and the revolutionary government demanded his extradition to face trials for his wrongdoings. This action of the US infuriated the people as they were reminded of how 26 years earlier the Shah had fled abroad while the Embassy-based American CIA and British intelligence organized a coup d'état to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh. To voice their dissent a group of revolutionary university students entered the US embassy compound or “den of espionage” as it was later dubbed, and there they found piles of shredded documents that proved the US’s interference in Iran’s internal affairs. The hostage crisis as it was called in the US had many ups and downs but finally the issue ended diplomatically with the signing of the Algiers Accords on January 19, 1981. The staff of the embassy were held in the US embassy compound in Tehran for a total of 444 days. This event played a significant role in shaping the Iran-US relations. Now after almost 30 years, four people at the heart of the events talk about their experience and voice their views in retrospect. Two former students and two former US officials held in Tehran.


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