‘Mary’ the ’79 Iranian hostage-taker proves that crime can pay


Caught “Argo” again the other night on cable. Terrific movie, even the second time around.

On Tuesday, there was a real-world echo of the events depicted in “Argo”: “Mary” has a new job.

Back in the day, Masoumeh Ebtekar, better known to the Western media as Mary, served as spokeswoman for the Iranian hostage-takers during the 444-day U.S. Embassy standoff in Tehran in 1979.


And that certainly seems to have been a nice thing to have on her resume. In 1997, she became the first female vice president of Iran. She also served six years on the Tehran city council, holds a doctorate in immunology and has been an associate professor at Tehran’s Tarbiat Modares University.

And now, at 52, she’s been named a vice president and head of environmental affairs by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Proving that crime does pay.

Of course, many Iranians -- and especially the hostage-takers -- wouldn’t put it that way. Ebtekar and the others saw their action as a legitimate protest against U.S. intervention in Iran’s affairs, especially the 1953 coup that brought the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to power.

OK. But the bottom line is this: There was nothing legal about taking 52 Americans captive, blindfolding them, terrorizing them and locking them up for more than a year -- even if you didn’t like something the U.S. government had done two decades before.

Now, in today’s Iran, Ebtekar is seen as a moderate, and her appointment is proof to some that the new president intends to steer a different course both domestically and internationally from his nutty, Holocaust-denying predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Perhaps so. Consider this, from my colleagues Ramin Mostaghim and Carol J. Williams:

On Monday, Rouhani urged his new Cabinet members to open personal pages on Facebook to be more accessible to the populace -- an about-face from the Tehran regime’s previous efforts to limit Iranians’ access to social media.

Wow. If you’re on Facebook, does this mean we can all be “friends”?

I’d like to think so. But part of me hopes they have as much trouble navigating Facebook and its quirks as I do. And I hope they have just as many annoying “friends” who brag about their kids, their jobs and their vacations and who post endlessly about what coffee they drank that morning or how they need money to treat their sick dog.

Because somehow, I just can’t cheer the good fortune of someone who, 33 years ago, helped steal 444 days out of the lives of 52 innocent Americans.


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