Problems with her exit papers at the last minute prevented American free-lance journalist Cynthia Dwyer from flying out of Iran Feb. 9 shortly after she was released from Tehran's Evin Prison.
Newsmen at Mehrabad Airport saw Mrs. Dwyer get out of a green Mercedes Benz automobile and run toward the terminal building minutes before an Iranian aircraft was due to take off for Vienna on a commercial flight. She was flanked by three Revolutionary Guards and a tall, slim European, apparently a Swiss diplomat.
A Swiss official in Tehran said later he could not understand what had become of the missing papers. Mrs. Dwyer appeared to have misplaced or dropped them or her passport while making hurried preparations to leave.
"We will give her another document," said Swiss Ambassador Erik Lang.
Mrs. Dwyer reportedly was taken to a secret location in Tehran (not Evin Prison) where she was to be kept while the difficulty is sorted out. This will probably not take more than a day.
Newsmen who saw her running toward the terminal at the airport said she appeared very happy. None were still at the airport when she was returned to Tehran.
Mrs. Dwyer's last-minute difficulty and the confusion over her airport visit were reminiscent of the several last-minute hitches that delayed the freeing of the 52 American hostages.
The Swiss diplomats who have been assisting in the Dwyer release say the apparent mix-up or loss "is not a serious problem at all." Earlier, however, Iranian authorities deliberately threw newsmen off course. They denied she had been released from Evin Prison even after she was seen at the airport.
Persian news media in general have been playing down the story. Only one paper, Ettelaat, published what was reported to be a detailed account of the trial, running to about 2 1/2 newspaper columns.
What emerged from the account was that Mrs. Dwyer did not fully understand the Iranian revolutionary agent who had been sent to lead her into a trap.
An earlier account of charges against her was that the agent pretended to be a member of an armed counterrevolutionary group. In the indictment, it appeared that the agent was posing as a member of a student group opposed to the regime.
Mrs. Dwyer reportedly said in her trial she had understood he was one of the militants in the US Embassy who wished to solve the hostage crisis by peaceful means. She believed that because they had seen her with Mrs. Barbara Timms, mother of one of the hostages, they thought she could get them in direct contact with the US administration.
Dwyer reportedly told the court that she did talk to Max McCarthy, the former American press attache in Tehran, during her telephone call to Washington. She said he had earlier resigned because he had not been allowed to reveal the facts.
She said, "My work did not involve giving secret information to anyone. I came to Iran as a free-lance journalist and came to Iran officially, with an official visa."
The prosecutor asked, "Do you have nothing to say about the arms," (arms the agent had allegedly asked her to obtain for the supposed counterrevolutionary group). She replied, "Mr. Massoud [the agent] did mention arms in his conversation. Of course, I did not understand what he meant by possessing arms and I did not know what he wanted the arms for."
Dwyer also reportedly told the court, "During the entire period of the Vietnam war I opposed the war, and in Iran also, after the US military attack on Tabas [last April 25], I thought it [the unsuccessful hostage rescue mission] was a mistake."
Mr. Massoud had appeared on the scene after the Tabas attack and told Mrs. Dwyer that "he was speaking on behalf of some students who wanted to find the solution to the hostage issue by peaceful means. . . . From everything he said all I could make out was that he wanted to find some way of getting in touch with the US."