[JURIST] US officials said Thurday that the US would investigate allegations that Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile] was among the revolutionary students responsible for taking American embassy staff in Tehran hostage in 1979 and holding them for 444 days [Jimmy Carter Library backgrounder]. Five former US hostages claim Ahmadinejad was one of their captors while one says he was interrogated by the president-elect. Associates of Ahmadinejad deny the claims, although his website [in Farsi] says that he helped to found the student union which took over the US embassy. Aljazeera reported last week that
As a young student, Ahmadinejad joined an ultraconservative faction of the Office for Strengthening Unity, the radical student group spawned by the 1979 Islamic Revolution and staged the capture of the US Embassy. According to reports, Ahmadinejad attended planning meetings for the US Embassy takeover and at these meetings lobbied for a simultaneous takeover of the Soviet Embassy.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said “we are looking into [the reports and statements of former hostages] to better understand the facts.” The allegations could further deepen a rift between Washington and Tehran as disagreements over nuclear developments and human rights records in Iran have caused tensions between the two countries. More specific legal consequences would likely be limited, however, as the Algiers Accords [PDF] that ended the crisis contained a provision precluding former hostages from suing their captives, and in court cases the US Department of Justice has discouraged litigation over the general issue. The Financial Times has more.