While United States officials here claim mounting evidence of "severe mistreatment" of the 52 Americans during their 444 days of captivity in Iran, the former Carter administration is strongly advising adherence to the Algiers agreements made with the Islamic republic.
Former President Jimmy Carter, on returning home after his Jan. 2 visit to the returnees in the US military hospital here, told reporters in Plains, GA., that "our nation's word of honor is at stake."
[The Reagan administration, which received Mr. Carter's report on hostages Jan. 22, announced through a State Department spokesman that it "fully intends to carry out the obligations of the United States" under the agreement, but was studying the extent of those obligations.]
Earlier, Mr. Carter's general counsel, Lloyd Cutler, told reporters here that the commitments undertaken by the United States in exchange for the liberation of the hostages were "fair and reasonable and very much in the interest of the United States."
Together with former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, former Secretary of the Treasury G. William Miller, and Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Harold Saunders, Mr. Cutler supported the agreements. He indicated the US should not renege on commitments just because they were made under duress of because of more detailed reports on the 14- month long ordeal of the US hostages.
speaking at a press conference Jan. 22 at the Wiesbaden Lindsay military base , deputy State Department spokesman Jack Cannon stated that "we are continuing to uncover evidence of serious mistreatment of our people during their captivity. . . . The evidence is now mounting. . . . It shows a much worse, much more extensive mistreatment than we previously had evidence of."
Although Mr. Cannon declined to cite specific cases or episodes, he listed the following categories of ill treatment:
* Poor and scarce food. Some of the hostages were given only bread and water for periods of two weeks at a time, others were forced to eat stale commissary foods, including warm powdered milk. The hostages were often refused the meat and vegetable diet their militant guards enjoyed.
* Cold and primitive living conditions in Iranian prisons or other cell-like circumstances.
* Blindfolding of some of the hostages for extended periods of time.
* Solitary confinement for periods of more than 100 days.
* Some hostages "manacled to single folding chairs" for as much as 14 days.
* Handcuffing of prisoners for extended periods.
* Feeding of misleading and distressing informaiton concerning the hostages' families and loved ones. One hostage had been led to believe that his mother had passed away.
* Denial of mail or any other form of outside communication for extended periods.
* Mock executions with loaded pistols and rifles.
Officials of the previous Carter administration, meanwhile, disputed that it was "immoral" to carry out US commitments made to Iran in exchange for the release of the hostages. Former Secretary of State Muskie pointed out to reporters Jan. 21 during a midnight briefing at the US Rhein Main air base that wars were "the ultimate immoral act" but that they were ended by negotiations. "how else do you end a war?" Mr. Muskie asked rhetorically.
The United States until now has unfrozen only Iran's assets deposited with American banks overseas. In total, $7.97 billion was transferred to an escrow account with the Bank of England in the name of the Central Bank of Algeria. Mr. Cutler outlined the advantages of the Algiers agreements:
* Iran immediately paid back outstanding loans to US banks of $3.67 billion.
* $1.42 billion remain in escrow to secure payment of disputed claims between US banks and Iran. This represents a 100 percent security for the claims.
* Thus, Iran so far has received only $2.88 billion.
* $1 billion of the Iranian assets deposited with US banks in the United States will be placed in an escrow account as security for paying off any awards resulting from the agreed- upon third-party arbitration. "As the fund is consumed to pay off these awards, Iran is bound to refresh it so that it always stays at a level of no less than $500 million." Mr. Cutler said.
* Many of the US lawsuits against Iran are against entities owned by the Iranian government. Assets that were attached are owned by different entities of the Iranian government. Citing "the law of sovereign immunity," Mr. Cutler said that "success in these court cases maybe very dou btful.