'Free us,' hostage pleads in letter to US newspaper

Robert C. Ode, the oldest of the American hostages being held in Iran, has written to the Washington Post asking that pressure be brought on the US government to "free us from this terrible situation."

The letter, dated Dec. 26 and believed authentic, said: "We are being kept in semi-darkened rooms; our hands are tied day and night, bright lights are kept burning all night and because of the constant noise it is almost impossible to sleep."

Meanwhile, State Department officials said that concern over Soviet activities in Afghanistan will not deter the United States from imposing harsher penalties on Iran to gain the freedom of the American hostages. "We feel strongly that since our primary objective is the release of the hostages, we must proceed to increase the penalties for their continued captivity," State Department spokesman Hodding Carter III said.

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