Ten Americans released from captivity in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran arrived early today in a military hospital here this afternoon for what was described as an emotional reunion with three other former captives who arrived here yesterday.
As was the case Monday, the new arrivals were immediately placed in a guarded wing of the hospital set aside for them. They remained isolated from the press, and all information about them continues to come from State Department spokesman George Sherman.
Sherman said that after a preliminary medical examination the 10 -- four women and six men -- also appeared in good physical condition and excellent spirits considering their 16-day ordeal in captivity.
He said the returnees asked to have it conveyed to newsmen that "all 13 have uppermost in their minds those friends left behind in the embassy and concern for their well-being and release."
Under questioning, Sherman said all 13 expressed a "unanimous desire" to go home as quickly as possible and there was obvious interest in being home for the Thanksgiving holiday. But he said he could not say when the returnees would leave here and said that the decision will depend on doctors examining them.
All the medical advice the government has received, Sherman said, is that after an ordeal such as the embassy siege and captivity, part of getting over it involves a period of rest and relaxation.
There have been reports that the returnees are undergoing debriefing at the hospital by military intelligence and State Department officials, but Sherman has refused to confirm them.
During the two days here, some hostility has surfaced between Sherman and more than a score of reporters concerning whether the returnees are being purposely kept away from the press, possibly against their wishes.
Today, Sherman opened his briefing by saying that the people just back from Tehran "were impressed by the similarity of enterprise shown by the press in Iran and the press in Germany." He was referring to a television camera crew that followed the Air Force bus bringing the former hostages to the hospital. Sherman claimed the returnees "were disturbed by this."
Yet the television film shows some of the five civilian and five military returnees smiling and waving to the cameramen.
This morning, the Armed Forces Radio network broadcast an interview with one returning hostage still in Tehran who said he was intent on talking about his views after he left.
Asked if any of the 13 expressed a desire to speak to the press here, Sherman said he wasn't going to be drawn into that. "When and if they desire to speak to the press, they will do so," he said.
Then Sherman said he "frankly resented the implication that we are walling them off from the press. This is a medical problem. These people have been through a terrible experience. I would suggest that their talking to you is not necessarily part of their therapy."
After the reunion with the three other hostages, Sherman said, the new arrivals called their families on open telephone lines to the United States and were given new uniforms, gifts of fruit baskets and toiletries. They indulged in their first baths in a long time which evolved into what he called a "splash party."
The returnees had left Iran for Paris this morning on a regularly scheduled Iranian flight.
They emerged from the Iran Air jumbo jet at Orly Field looking fit and wearing clothes that seemed too light for the cold Paris weather this morning, Washington Post correspondent Ronald Koven reported from Paris.
The 10 were greeted in turn at the bottom of the gangway by U.S. Ambassador to France Arthur Hartman.
The ambassador said later that the returnees looked well, "considering what they have been through," Koven added, but he noted that only a few pool cameramen and a single agency reporter were allowed within earshot of the returnees. Security at Orly was tight, Koven said, in anticipation of their arrival.
After less than half an hour at the airport, the returnees boarded a waiting U.S. military jet for the flight to Frankfurt just east of Wiesbaden.
The 10 new arrivals are: Elizabeth Montagne of Calumet City, Ill.; Terri Tedford of South San Francisco, Calif.; Joan Walsh of Ogden, Utah; Lillian Johnson of Elmont, N.Y.; Lloyd Rollins of Alexandria, Va.; Marine Sgt. David Walker of Hempstead, Tex.; Marine Cpl. Wesley Williams of Albany, N.Y.; Air Force Capt. Neal Robinson of Houston, Tex.; Air Force Sgt. James Hughes of Langley Air Force Base, Va.; and Air Force Sgt. Joseph Vincent of Sacramento, Calif.