30 Jun Can Former Hostages Sue Iran’s New Leader?
Just to follow up on Chris’ post on Iran’s new leader. Ordinarily, the former hostages might have been able to sue the new Iranian prez in U.S. courts under the Alien Tort Statute. But they would face innumerable obstacles including a 10-year statute of limitations. But most importantly, it appears that the 1981 Algiers Accords, which resulted in the release of the hostages in the first place, bars any such claim. Here is the key language:
11. … the United States will promptly withdraw all claims now pending against Iran before the International Court of Justice and will thereafter bar and preclude the prosecution against Iran of any pending or future claim of the United States or a United States national arising out of events occurring before the date of this declaration related to (A) the seizure of the 52 United States nationals on November 4, 1979, (B) their subsequent detention, (C) injury to United States property or property of the United States nationals within the United States Embassy compound in Tehran after November 3, 1979, and (D) injury to the United States nationals or their property as a result of popular movements in the course of the Islamic Revolution in Iran which were not an act of the Government of Iran. …
Moreover, former hostages can’t even go to the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal because that tribunal’s jurisdiction is limited to claims that : “arise out of debts, contracts (including transactions which are the subject of letters of credit or bank guarantees), expropriations or other measures affecting property rights, excluding claims described in Paragraph 11 (see above).”
This language looks pretty airtight to me. Moreover, even though the Algiers Accords are merely an executive agreement, and not a treaty, the Supreme Court has ruled that they do have domestic legal effect.
So, sadly, the former hostages are out of luck here.