Freed American Embassy hostage Richard Queen arrived in West Germany today to be treated for a neurological disorder at Wiesbaden's U.S. Air Force Hospital.
The 28-year-old embassy vice consul, freed by Iranian authorities yesterday after eight months in captivity, was carried on a stretcher from a U.S. Air Force DC9 medical evacuation aircraft after his arrival at an air base near Frankfurt.
His parents and State Department officials accompanied him on the flight from Zurich, Switerzerland, where he walked to the plane with the assistance of servicemen after undergoing preliminary medical tests at Zurich's University Hospital. There was no immediate explanation of why Queen was able to board the plane on foot in Switzerland but was carried off in a stretcher in West Germany.
According to American and Iranian spokesman, Queen has been suffering from dizziness, loss of balance, vomiting and numbness in his left arm.
Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the diplomat's release after receiving reports from Iranian doctors in Tehran that Queen might be afflicted with a serious disease such as encephalitis or multiple sclerosis.
An Iranian Health Ministry statement broadcast on Tehran radio today said neurologist who examined Queen during his four-day stay at Martyrs' Hospital before his release found evidence of a nervous disorder going back six months.
But one of his militant student captors told Reuter news agency in Tehran that Queen "was in good condition before July 8," when he suddenly began vomiting and losing his balance. The militant spokesman insisted that no symptoms were apparent before then.
However, Queen was known to have complained to visiting doctors and clergymen in March and April about a loss of feeling in one of his hands.
State Department officials who traveled with Queen from Switzerland to West Germany today denied a Swiss press report that he needs an operation to remove a blood clot in his brain.
As he was carried by two U.S. Air Force crewmen from the medical evacuation plane that landed at Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Queen was applauded by U.S. and West German servicemen. He greeted a waiting crowd of reporters and photographers with a wave and a grin. Then, clutching a bouquet of flowers, he was put into a sleek, white military ambulance for the 30-minute drive to Wiesbaden.
West German and U.S. Military Police cars escorted the ambulance and four accomanying limousines carrying his parents, three U.S. State Department doctors and a State Department official.
Department spokesman Shelton Krys said it was not known how long Queen would stay in Wiesbaden before returning to the United States. He said Queen was in Wiesbaden "for a period of recuperation and rest and a period of decompression."
His parents, Harold and Jeanne Queen, flew in from the United States late Friday and visited their son at Zurich's University Hospital just before he was flown to West Germany.
"He lost 10 to 15 pounds, but there's been a tremendous improvement, even overnight," the father said.
"He gets better hour by hour. His mind seems clear; his spirits are great," Queen's father said.
Mrs. Queen said, "My son has no hard feelings toward the Iranians despite some awful moments.
"He hopes his release will be the start of the freeing of all the others, and he won't be happy until everyone is released," she said. "Richard told us he had been treated very well while in the hospital in Tehran. When he left yesterday he was given a bag with pineapple juice, cheese and medicines."
Both the parents talked with deep emotion when they left the Zurich hospital to accompany their son to Wiesbaden.
"Richard has undergone a series of tests and will continue to undergo tests," the father said. "We don't have the final results yet, but we are guardedly optimistic."
Mrs. Queen, who took her son a box of raspberries, said he "seems to have a sense of peace and serenity."
"I'm just full of happiness to see my son," Mrs. Queen said.
"We are deeply grateful to the Swiss and to everybody, and we are grateful also to the Iranians for having restored him to freedom," she said.