Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr and the militant Moslem students occupying the U.S. Embassy said today that at least some of the American hostages have been moved out of the embassy compound to undisclosed locations in response to the aborted rescue mission ordered by President Carter.
Bani-Sadr said, however, that the bodies of eight Americans killed in an accident during the mission would be returned to the United States with no prior conditions.
The Iranian president spoke at a news conference in which Barbara Timm, the mother of the youngest American hostage, publicly apologized for the rescue attempt.
Tonight, Iranian television showed film of the charred bodies of American servicemen at the site of a collision between a C130 transport plane and a helicopter involved in the rescue effort. Black smoke was still rising from the burned-out hulk of the C130, and an Iranian Revolutionary Guard was shown displaying several large bundles of U.S. hundred dollar bills found at the scene of the wreckage beside a desert road about 300 miles southeast of the capital.
In a communique issued this afternoon condemning the "scandalous crime of Carter and his mercenaries' aggression on Iranian soil," the Moslem militants said they had decided to move the hostages to different cities in Iran.
Although Bani-Sadr said that a transfer had already taken place, there was no independent confirmation that hostges had been moved out of the embassy compound, where they have been held for nearly six months.
The militants' statement, broadcast on official Iranian radio, said: "In order to remove any pretext for aggression from the criminal Carter, and in order for the entire brave Iranian nation to have a direct role in keeping the hostages, and so that the U.S. knows that such filthy methods do not result in the release of the hostages, we decided to keep the hostges in different cities throughout the country. It is natural that every city will have direct responsibility for them until the necessary time with the cooperation of the students in the nest of spies [U.S. Embassy] who are with the hostages.
"And we are sure that the enthusiastic revolutionary youth of Islam in every city will frustrate any kind of plot and suspicious moves. At present, as a precautionary measure, the spy hostages are at different points. The practical details of this will be communicated to our dear nation later."
Asked at his news conference about the transfer of the hostages, Bani-Sadr said: "They are in good shape, and they apparently have been transferred outside the embassy." He said this was done "to be prepared for the probable attack that may occur in the future and so that the students do not take measures that we are not willing to have happen."
Aides of Bani-Sadr permitted one question to be submitted in writing from each reporter at the news conference and would not allow follow-up questions.
Bani-Sadr said emphatically that his government would not take control of the hostages who reportedly were moved out of the embassy compound.
After the news conference, an aide also denied any government involvement in helping to move the captives elsewhere. He said, "The students are very capable" of making the transfer themselves.
Western diplomats here were divided on whether hostages had actually been moved out of the embassy. Some viewed such an action as a logical response to the U.S. rescue attempt, while others believed the announcement of the transfer was a bluff designed to confuse Washington. One European ambassador said he understood that 18 hostages had been moved out of the embassy yesterday, but no hard evidence that a transfer had taken place was immediately available.
The consensus among diplomats seemed to be that the hostages would face harsher conditions of detention following the failed American mission to rescue them. In the custody of other captors, the diplomats said, it is likely the hostages would initially be treated more roughly because they would lose the rapport they had developed with the embassy militants.
Neither the militants nor Bani-Sadr would say how many hostages had allegedly been transferred or where they were now being held.
Diplomats said an unusual number of vans were seem inside the compound today, but that no hostages were seen leaving the embassy.
At his news conference, Bani-Sadr refused to answer questions on whether any Iranian search parties had found any of the "dozens" of surviving Americans that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said Friday had been abandoned in Iran after the aborted rescue mission.
The official Paris news agency had reported yesterday that Iranian Air Force planes thwarted the U.S. mission by bombing American helicopters at the desert landing site, destroying at least two of them. The agency also reported that one revolutionary Guard was killed in the bombing.
Appearing at Bani-Sadr's news conference evidently at their own initiative were Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Timm of Oak Creek, Wis., and their lawyer, Carl McAfee of Norton, Va. Bani-Sadr had signed a letter to the militants urging them to let Timm see her son by a first marriage, Marine Sgt. Kevin Hermening, 20, inside the embassy, and the two had an emotional reunion Monday for 45 minutes.
In the middle of the news conference, Timm was led up to a table where Bani-Sadr was seated and permitted to make a statement.
"I'm going to tell you and the people of Iran that our family and another family of one of the hostages, the Graves family, deeply regret the action our president took yesterday," Timm said. "We would like to apologize for that action."
With her husband and McAfee standing behind her, Timm publicly told Bani-Sadr, "We would like to thank you for the opportunity to see my son, and we deeply regret the actions of our president."
Then she stepped back behind Bani-Sadr and was hugged by her husband as the Iranian president continued his news conference.
In a breech of Islamic revolutionary protocol, Timm them kissed her husband on his moustache in full view of the audience and television cameras before walking away from behind the presidential table.
After practically stealing the show from Bani-Sadr, Timm bitterly complained of being pestered by reporters and cameramen, who she said would probably misinterpret her statement. Appearing flustered, Mrs. Timm then broke down and wept on her husband's shoulder.
[In Washington, a spokesman for the family of John Graves, a public affairs officer at the embassy being held by the militants, criticized the U.S. mission and said the family is opposed to the use of force. She said members of the family still plan to travel to Tehran to try to see Graves.]
In reply to a question, Bani-Sadr said he had advised the governor general of Khorassan to prepare the American bodies for repatriation.
"They will be returned and no conditions have been stated for this," Bani-Sadr said.
The Iranian television film shown tonight featured closeups of several badly charred corpses that were found at the site of wrecked aircraft used in the hostage resuce mission. The footage also showed helicopters and a number of pressurized cans that were said to contain disabling gas.
Iranian military leaders, investigating the aborted U.S. mission, today tried to figure out how the big C130 planes and helicopters managed to slip through Iranian radar.
But an Iranian radio commentator seemed more preoccupied with another question.
"How did they think they could cross the border when they were being spotted by Allah's radar?" he asked.