Hostage wives: a message to Europe
"Europeans," says Mrs. Louisa Kennedy, wife of Tehran hostage Morehead Kennedy, "are extremely important in the world effort to free our prisoners in Iran, and we're going to tell them so."
Mrs. Kennedy and three other hostage family members are flying to Europe this week to explain to European statesmen, news media, and ordinary people how their support of nonmilitary measures against Iran can help.
Others on the trip, which is financed by their own means and is strictly private, include Mrs. Pearl Golacinski, wife of hostage Alan Golacinski, an embassy staffer in Tehran; Barbara Rosen, the wife of embassy press attache Barry Rosen (often shown blindfolded in film from the first hours of the Nov. 4 embassy takeover), and Jeanne Queen, the mother of Vice-Consul Richard I. Queen.
It is no accident that their trip coincides with meetings later this week in Luxembourg of leaders of the nine European Community members. The EC countries have been debating stricter diplomatic and commercial sanctions against Iran. The wives would like to influence that debate.
Mrs. Kennedy said before leaving that she and Mrs. Golacinski hope to meet with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and perhaps with French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. Mrs. Kennedy created widespread sympathy for the hostages' cause in an interview broadcast earlier this year by the French state television network.
Mrs. Queen, meanwhile, will fly to Rome and perhaps Milan to contact Italian government and opinion leaders. Mrs. Gisela Ahern, wife of political officer Thomas L. Ahearn Jr., whom Iranian militants last December denounced as a spy, has canceled earlier plans for the trip.
Mrs. Kennedy is spokeswoman for FLAG (Family Liaison Action Group), an organization of hostages' families which she took the lead in organizing. It is totally independent from the State Department or the Carter administration.
She says she understands the motivation of Mrs. Barbara Timm, the mother of Marine hostage Kevin Hermening. The militants allowed Mrs. Timm to see her son in the embassy April 21. Mrs. Kennedy, like US officials, was concerned that Mrs. Timm's visit would be exploited for propaganda purposes by the captors.