Video: Iranian captor controversy
updated 7/1/2005 3:48:51 PM ET 2005-07-01T19:48:51

In 1979, 52 Americans at the U.S.  Embassy in Iran were taken hostage by militants protesting America‘s refusal to hand over the former shah.  They were held for 444 days.  And today, five of them are coming forward, saying one of their captors is Iran‘s new president-elect.  Iran denies it, but the White House is taking it seriously.  President Bush said today, these allegations raise “many questions.”  One of those hostages is Donald Sharer.

Mr. Sharer joined Chris Matthews on Thursday's edition of Hardball to talk about his claim.  Below is a transcript of the interview. If you would like to watch it, click on the video launcher, above right.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  When did you first believe the picture you saw of the new president of Iraq, Mr. Ahmadinejad, was the man who was your interrogator? 

DONALD SHARER, FORMER IRANIAN HOSTAGE:  It was Tuesday when I looked at the newspaper.  I believe it was Tuesday, “The Indianapolis Star.”  And I looked at it and said, I know this guy.  And I just thought about it a little more and a little more. 

And I came up with an incident that happened to Colonel Scott and myself where this fellow—we were given a little freedom to walk up the hall, a 20-foot hall, walk up the hall and see Tom Ahern.  And that happened for two days.  And I think it was the third day, the guy comes in and just chews the guard out severely.  I mean, he really chews him out severely. 

And then he says in Farsi—and Colonel Scott knows Farsi backwards and forwards—and he said, the guy said these pigs and these dogs need to be locked up until they‘re executed.  That was one time.  We had several visitors, visitors, mullahs, ayatollahs, some foreign press come through. 

And they were always escorted by several of our captors.  And I believe, I‘m 99 percent sure that he was one of the guys that just kind of escorted them along and just kind of showed them he had a little authority.

Now, where he was in the hierarchy of the whole movement, I have no idea.  I was behind bars and kept—information was not forthcoming to us.  So, I just know, knew when I saw him, saw the picture—and it was a recent picture—that he rang—really rang a bell. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you be able to testify in court?  Is your certitude that this is the man who was your captor? 

SHARER:  I imagine.  To the best of my knowledge, this is that bubba, that guy. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the—the question is, though—let me ask you to take a look at the picture again.  This is the president-elect.  We‘re going to show you a picture of the president-elect of Iran.  There he is, the man on the right. 

The man on the left in the monitor you‘re looking at, Mr. Sharer, is someone who has been mentioned as someone who was close to you, who was one of the captors.  It‘s really not important.  But does the man on the left look like the man on the right you?  And is the man on the left the man you remember as well? 

SHARER:  Yes.  The man on the right is the one that I saw that reminded me of it, and just about the same beard. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SHARER:  Had a little half-inch, quarter-inch growth. 

MATTHEWS:  I know what you mean. 

SHARER:  And the man on the left, there‘s too much facial hair to really look at. 

MATTHEWS:  Have you been given a chance to look at any other pictures of anyone—of the captors?  We have a lot of photograph, of course, of the captors back from ‘79 and ‘80.  Have you looked at any other pictures for a possible match-up yet? 

SHARER:  No, I have not.  I‘ve been at this since about 4:00 this morning and have not had a chance to look at television to see what you folks are doing. 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody is rooting around.  I guess the question is whether we can find any way to ascertain whether this is the person. 

The president-elect is a man of small stature.  He‘s about 5‘2.  Do you recall the person who was—this person was a man of about that height? 

SHARER:  No, I don‘t.  It was 25 years ago.  If I remember right, he was shorter than I was.  I won‘t put a value to it.  But he was shorter than I was.  But I‘m pretty sure it‘s the same guy. 

MATTHEWS:  How tall are you, sir? 

SHARER:  I‘m 5‘9“. 

MATTHEWS:  So you thought he was obviously shorter than you at the time?

SHARER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And was his age about right to conform to the age of the president-elect now, who is, I believe, middle-aged now?  Was he a young man at the time? 

SHARER:  He was a young man at the time. 


SHARER:  If I had to guess, I would say he was 23, 24. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your feeling that this might be the same man who was your captor, that he is now president-elect? 

SHARER:  My feeling is—and I‘ve said it most of the day—that it is something that Washington minds up there are going to have to really watch.  He was a hard-liner.  I mean, he was a hard-liner.  He was anti-American, anti-Western culture.  And he just wanted to keep Iran the way it is. 

MATTHEWS:  You said he wanted to see you executed.  Is that right? 

SHARER:  Oh, yes, sir.  They threatened us with execution several times. 

MATTHEWS:  Did he ever lay a hand on you? 

SHARER:  No.  No. 

Watch 'Hardball' each night at 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

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