Freed U.S. Embassy hostage Richard Queen, released from eight months of captivity by Iranian revolutionaries, arrived here yesterday from Tehran for medical treatment and early today had an emotional reunion with his parents.
"We are overwhelmed," his father, Harold Queen, said after he and his wife Jeanne spent 50 minutes at their son's bedside in the Zurich University Clinic. "Richard is not as we have known him when we last saw him a year ago. He needs treatment, but we are confident."
Preliminary tests at the hospital indicated that Queen, the embassy's vice consul, was suffering from a neurological problem involving some lack of coordination and stiffness in his left arm, U.S. officials said. But they described him as in "good spirits and sound psychological condition."
"The doctors are optimistic, they are quite optimistic," Queen's father said. "But it was a highly emotional experience."
Sounding exhuberant, Queen, 28, told ABC television by telephone that he believes Iranian authorities freed him because they thought he might have a "brain virus" and feared his condition would worsen.
President Carter spoke to Queen yesterday by telephone and said the freed hostage seemed to be in "excellent spirits" after receiving a good medical report in Switzerland. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, talked to Queen for about 10 minutes from their vacation quarters at Sapelo Island, Ga., the White House said.
"Queen told the president that he was looking forward most of all to being back on American soil," a White House statement said.
Queen was reached at the Zurich hospital by Mike Kelly of the "Good Morning America" television show. Kelly had been trying to contact Dr. Paul Eggerston, a State Department psychiatrist sent to help examine Queen, and was surprised when he was put through to Queen himself.
"I haven't got a brain tumor," Queen told Kelly. "I really can't say what I do have. I'm undergoing tests so I really can't say what might be wrong with me." He said his main sympton was dizziness.
Queen said he had been given just an hour's notice befoe being released Thursday.
"They said. 'Be ready in an hour; the plane is waiting.'" Queen recalled.
"It came so suddenly. They told me they were sending me home to my parents for medical reasons. I was in a Tehran hospital at the time because they thought I might have a brain virus.
"I think they figured it was safer to release me than to take a chance with complications developing," Queen added. I think I'll be back in the States, certainly within a week."
Queen said that during his eight months of captivity, he and the other hostages got a boost from the sympathy of Americans back home.
"The most important thing was the knowledge that the whole country was supporting us," he said. "The 100-percent support of Americans was so important."
"I am very, very glad to be going home so soon, especially so much sooner than I expected," Queen said.
In response to a question, Queen said he did not know the whereabouts of the other 49 hostages held by militant Moslem students since they took over the embassy Nov. 4. The militants have said they dispersed with captives to 15 cities and towns across Iran following the failed U.S. hostage rescue mission in April. Another three Americans are being held at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran.
"There was a lot of movement, but I couldn't tell you if people were being taken out," Queen said. "We were blindfolded whenever we went from one room to another even if we went from one room to a bathroom."
After arriving in Zurich aboard a DC8 Swiss airliner from Tehran, Queen was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance and then to the hospital.
Peter Reuss, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland, said that on his arrival Queen appeared to be in "no pain" and looked "euphoric."
"A doctor made a quick check, then blood and other samples were taken," Reuss said. If the tests showed any illness, a medical decision would have to be made whether to move the freed hostage he said.
Reuss said that although State Department psychiatrist Eggerston had flown in from Vienna, to join the examination, "that does not mean there is any psychiatric problem necessarily."
In Washington, State Department spokesman John Trattner told reporters that Queen appeared to be in "sound psychological condition" despite his unspecified "neurological problem."
Asked whether Queen may have faked illnes to gain his release, Trattner said, "I don't have an answer to that. It's an interesting question, but I don't want to lead you on."
Queen's parent's who live in Maine, were accompanied on a commercial flight from New york to London by Sheldon Krys, a State Department administrative officer, and Dr. Jerome Korcak, a department physican. They transferred there to a U.S. military aircraft for the flight to Zurich, where they arrived late last night.
Before leaving the United States, Queen's father said he hoped his son's release would be the first step toward freeing all the hostages.
"The only thing you can be in this whole thing is basically optimistic," he said.