1979 Iranian embassy hostage crisis: All

Image copyright Gulam Mohammedi Image caption Mohammedi was sentenced to death for helping the US Embassy staff escape, but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison

At least 52 hostages were taken by the Iranian government at the US Embassy in Tehran on 9 November 1979.

Iranian nationalist-turned-Islamic cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led the Islamic Revolution that toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

One hostage was taken as he was going to the toilet and the rest in the safe zone at the embassy.

The hostages were held for 444 days before being released on 18 January 1981.

The hostage crisis was one of the great events of the 1980s, brought back to life as a TV movie in February 2016.

How did the hostages get in?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption It is not thought the CIA had any prior knowledge of the hostage taking

The US embassy was nearly empty when a mob of anti-American protesters approached the fortified site, across from Tehran University, on the evening of 8 November.

The compound had been used since 1980 as a pre-planned temporary US embassy to handle Iranian diplomatic matters.

By the time the crowd turned the embassy’s western gate into a fortress, it had been using as a refuge for its staff.

All of them were there, unharmed but covered in dust.

The vanguard team had come for the embassy’s safe zone.

Who were the hostages?

Two-thirds of the remaining 130 staff at the embassy were held hostage. The rest included:

five US citizen family members;

three Canadian diplomats;

two officials from the Swiss government, which has acted as US interests in Iran since the Shah was overthrown in 1979;

two officials from the US Marshals Service;

two Secret Service agents and their partner;

two specialists in the US Air Force who had volunteered their time as crew on the aircraft that came to collect the diplomats.

And some people from the British embassy.

Whose plans were they hiding?

One young CIA spy, Robert Loring, had already been on his third tour in Iran.

He had befriended some young women in a street cafe after they had fled the chaos of the student protests. He then persuaded the female revolutionaries to tell him about their plans for a secret meeting.

They had promised not to leave the safe zone until after the Islamic Revolution, which could only happen if the Shah was overthrown.

Armed with that information, Mr Loring went back to the embassy and let everyone else know what he knew.

Who were the hostages?

Several representatives of American technology companies, which were keen to invest in Iran.

Besides Mr Loring, the others were Larry Collinson, a New York businessman who went to Iran to scout out its oil industry and Bob Anders, an engineer from West Valley, Utah, who represented a US defence company.

Who were the protesters?

People of Iranian origin from all over the world had gathered at the embassy gates, each carrying a large stamp designated with a customised green sign.

What happened to the man who managed the safe zone?

After the protesters had advanced, Washington switched staff into the back of a town car with diplomatic plates.

The rest were unable to break through the barricades, although many had managed to escape by fleeing through the embassy’s basement gate.

When the car reached its destination, the interior was ripped apart. The escapees had dropped through the car windows into the bunker.

But Iranian communists had made a film – My Contraband – about the takeover of the US embassy, and had posted it on the walls of the protest site.

Iranian prisoners throughout the country were caught watching the film.

They found it highly insulting and condemned it, and the film was banned.

Who was Iran’s leader in 1979?

A major miscalculation: in his haste to celebrate the revolution’s first five years, the Shah grabbed control of Iran’s religious institutions in a bid to keep his family in power.

This move ultimately led to the public backlash against him that would lead to Khomeini becoming Iran’s supreme leader.

What were the hostages’ conditions?

NBC News interviewed Mr Anders and the one woman who was not in the safe zone.

He described the Americans as being left “in a concentration camp” for several hours, during which he said there was “no sightseeing”.

Mr Anders said the two most influential intelligence figures at the embassy – David Rohde and Bruce McCandless – were held hostage.

The ambassador and other officials were used to give interviews and counter the Americans’ attempts to dramatise their case.

They shared their homes with the US diplomats.

How long were the hostages held?

Their ordeal lasted 444 days.

They were held at various safe zones set up in Tehran over two

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