Nov. 4, 1979: Iran Hostage Crisis

Protesters seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 98 hostages, setting off a 444-day ordeal as part of the Islamic Revolution.
3:57 | 11/04/19

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Transcript for Nov. 4, 1979: Iran Hostage Crisis
From ABC in New York this is blue. Looms tonight Sunday. When Sam Donaldson. Good evening the US embassy and kiran has been invaded and occupied by Iranian students Americans inside have been taken prisoner. And according to a student spokesman will be held as hostages until the deposed Shaw has returned from the United States where he's receiving medical treatment for cancer. Some reports say as many as ninety Americans may be involved others say if he was 35. A look at what has happened that Iran has now rated by Richard and. The American hostages were blindfolded and cough and marched out on the US embassy's front steps by the revolutionary students. The Iranians had fought US marine guards for three hours for control of the embassy. The Marines used tear gas eventually overrun at 5 o'clock this morning New York Times as Revolutionary Guards and local police stood by and watched. While the Iranians burned an American flag in front of the embassy they said the takeover had the express blessing of the Ayatollah Khomeini. In return for their American hostages freedom they're demanding the United States give up the deposed Joba ran from his hospital bed in New York. Stand trial before a People's Court until that is done the demonstrators refused to make any promises about the fate of the American hostages. Immediately after the takeover the crowd put up pictures of the Ayatollah and a banner identifying themselves as Khomeini follower. Iranian women wearing the traditional lecture doors could be seen inside the compound gate. Outside newsmen and women waited for any information. But one fact is clear tonight. That for the second time in a year Khomeini demonstrators and Tehran have overrun the American Embassy and now appear in control of as many as ninety American lives. Richard Anderson ABC news. The action against the embassy in May or may not have been ordered by Iran religious leader the Ayatollah Khomeini that is not clear but it does appear to have his blessing. The spokesman in the holy city of palms said the move has the Ayatollah personal support which adds to Washington difficulty in trying to resolve this dangerous situation. Ted Koppel our diplomatic correspondent is standing by the State Department with the latest on that. The State Department is doing what it can but for the moment at least that doesn't appear to be much. There has been no direct contact with the US embassy in Tehran that building is under the total control of the demonstrators. During the takeover by coincidence the senior American diplomats in Iran Bruce lying in the Sharjah their affair was at the Foreign Ministry. He has remained there throughout the day acting as Washington's main link to the Arabian government. The State Department has set up a special task force and a small room next to the operations center. Force is headed by assistant secretary of state Harold Saunders but secretary of state bans himself came in this morning stayed until early afternoon. And twice brief President Carter who was up at Camp David by phone. So far official comments about the incidents have been a model of restraint. An expression of concern for the safety of American personnel and property. And a statement of appreciation. That the Iranian government has made some efforts to resolve the matter Sam. Had the Ayatollah support for this action is ominous is that. Well it may or may not be ominous the State Department is making a particular point to distinguish the Ayatollah Khomeini from the Iranian government that's why it's being so restrained in its direct references to the government. It seems to me this is another situation where a lot of people's first instinct might be to use military force but apparently Washington has not going to do that. Well first of all it probably wouldn't work sermons secondly in one word oil Washington is tremendously concerned about Iran's oil supplies and our need for them and of course concerned. About the safety of those Americans to let the in this. Thank you very much test.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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