An Anacortes couple who were part of a group of Americans that escaped Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis are waiting to hear if they will be compensated.
An Anacortes couple who were part of a group of Americans that escaped Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis are waiting to hear if they will be eligible for restitution from the attack.
The federal spending bill passed last week includes up to $4.4 million each for the hostages held in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran 36 years ago, according to The New York Times. The article states that each of the 53 hostages, held for up to 444 days, could receive the long-sought compensation.
Mark Lijek and Cora Amburn-Lijek, of Anacortes, were part of a different small group of Americans who escaped the embassy during the attack and stayed with the Canadian ambassador. The pair later fled the country with the help of the CIA and Canadian government, in a move later depicted by the movie “Argo.”
The bill passed Friday allocates up to $10,000 for each day the hostages were held to each of the victims. It adds that to be eligible, the hostages must be part of a group identified in a 2000 lawsuit that was filed against Iran on behalf of the hostages.
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But it still remains unclear if the six Americans who stayed with the Canadian ambassador are included under the new law.
“I always assumed what Congress ultimately approved would be specifically for (the hostages held at the embassy),” Lijek said. “But the law indicates it is for broader victims of terrorism.”
The federal government will set up a group to oversee the payment of compensation, and Lijek intends to follow up after the holidays.
He acknowledges that the group of six Americans did not go through the same harrowing experience that the hostages held in the embassy did.
“I have never been comfortable thinking of myself in the same context as those folks,” Lijek said. “It wasn’t exactly a fun thing, but it wasn’t the same hell they went through.”
If Lijek and his wife are found to be eligible, though, he said they would seek compensation. It was an untenable situation, he said, and the U.S. government knew some of the risks before sending Americans to work at the embassy during that time.
Lijek has received two small forms of payment from the federal government for the attacks — relief from paying income tax during the time he was in hiding, and about $4,000 for the experience.