Washington — The dramatic escape from Iran of six Americans not captured in the Nov. 4 US Embassy takeover who took shelter in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran should not jeopardize the chances for release of the remaining hostages, US State Department officials said Jan. 29.
The six Americans left Iran after several weeks under the protection of Canadian Ambassador Walter Taylor. They were: Mark J. Lijek, Consular Officer, and Mrs. Cora Amburn Lijek; Consular Officers Robert G. Anders and Joseph D. Stafford; Mrs. Kathleen F. Stafford; and Henry Lee Schataz, Agricultural Attache. Mrs. Lijek and Mrs. Stafford were employed at the embassy as assistants.
STate Department spokesman Hodding Carter III refused to say whether the six had escaped from the US compound after it was taken over, or whether, like US charge d'affaires Bruce Laingen and two other US diplomats still in the Iranian Foregin Ministry, they had not been inside the compound.
[In Ottawa, Canadian External Affairs Minister Flora MacDonald said the six Americans were not on the US Embassy premises when it was seized by militant students, according to Reuters.]
In confirming the escape, Hodding Carter said he "had no way to read the minds of the jailers" still holding 50 Americans in the US Embassy, but said "We trust that they will not take any steps against the hostages" as a result of the unrelated escape fo the six.
CAnadian news reports said Ambassador Taylor issued the Americans with Canadian travel documents enabling them to leave. Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark announced the Canadian Embassy had been closed temporarily as of Jan. 28 because it was impossible to carry on normal diplomatic business in strife-torn Iran.
The Montreal newspaper La Presse said the real reason was to cover the departure of the six Americans.