NBC television last night broadcast film of American hostages in Tehran exercising and being examined by an Iranian doctor a few days ago in anticipation of a visit by the U.N. fact-finding panel.
Most of the hostages shown appeared to be suffering some degree of depression.
It was the first TV footage of the U.S. Embassy hostages since an NBC interview Dec. 10 with Marine Cpl. William Gallegos, 21, of Pueblo, Colo. The film was shot by the Iranian militants occupying the embassy and given to "Greek television, which broadcast it Monday and yesterday before making it available to NBC, an NBC spokeswoman said.
The film showed Gallegos and another Marine security guard, identified as Sgt. Rodney V. Sickmann, 22, of Krakow, Mo., smiling and exercising. Embassy press attache Barry Rosen, 36, of Brooklyn N.Y. was shown complaining to an Iranian doctor about an irregular heartbeat and apparent nervous problems.
"In January I had what I thought was a convulsion," Rosen said, according to an NBC transcript. "My heart started to beat very fast and my stomach and everything. . . . Ever since then I've had a condition where I constantly have things going wrong inside of me. . . ."
Rosen also said he has been having trouble sleeping. He said his ailments persisted despite an earlier checkup, an electrocardiogram and a visit by a "neurologist."
NBC quoted the Iranian doctor as saying afterward that the hostages "are satisfactory, taking into account the psychological state of those detained for almost five months."
It was unclear how many of the estimated 50 American hostages the doctor examined.
A State Department official said the film provided no new information about the hostages. He said the militants apparently made the film available as a propaganda ploy to back their contention that all the hostages are healthy and well cared for.
The film showed 11 hostages in all being examined in cursory fashion by the Iranian doctor. Except for footage in which Galleogs and Sickmann were shown exercising, evidently on the orders of their Iranian captors, the hostages appeared depressed and listless.
Some of them apparently refused to cooperate with the examination. One unidentified hostage was shown silently lying on his bunk, his hand covering his face, as the doctor tried to examine him.
Another unidentified hostage complained of "eye problems," saying that his glasses had been taken from him.
NBC said it had been able to identify six of the 11 captives shown. Besides Rosen, Gallegos and Sickmann, they were diplomats Bruce German and John Limbert and California businessman Jerry Plotkin. The network said it believed two others were Michael Mueller and Duane Gillette, but said it could not identify the three remaining captives.
Plotkin told the doctor on camera, "I hope all this attention means we will be going home soon."
Rosen spoke to the doctor in a pathetic, almost child-like voice as he described heart palpitations and general malaise. A psychiatrist interviewed by NBC said the symptons Rosen described were typical of the depression often suffered by hostages.
Rosen's wife, Barbara, told NBC she wanted to appeal for her husband's release on medical grounds but was too upset to be interviewed.