The approximately 190 Iranian demonstrators arrested here Sunday were taken from Washington area jails last night in federal custody and sent to U.S. government detention facilities in New York for deportation proceedings.
After disorderly conduct charges against them were dropped, approximately 170 Iranian men were taken under heavy guard from the D.C. Jail and bused to Andrews Air Force Base. In handcuffs and leg irons, they were marched aboard two jet transports and flown to a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y.
About 20 Iranian women, released from the jail Thursday night, were placed on a bus that arrived at 11:45 p.m. at a federal jail in New York City. They were being processed there early today. The women had been held temporarily yesterday at the Prince George's County jail.
Under the spotlights of two U.S. Park Police helicopters, the five buses carrying the Iranian men arrived at Andrews about 10:25 p.m. and, escorted by two dozen District and park police cars and motorcycles, pulled up behind two gleaming silver and white Air Force C-141 Starlifter jet transports.
Flanked by police and Immigration and Naturalization Service agents, the Iranians, many chanting "Long Live Khomeini," walked up the planes' rear ramps. With a total of 27 INS agents on board with the Iranians, the rear doors swung shut, and the planes rolled down the runway. They roared into the air at 11:25 p.m., and landed early this morning at an Air Force base about 25 miles from the Otisville prison.
The Iranian women also changet "Long Live Khomeini" earlier last night when they were taken from the Prince George's jail in Upper Marlboro for the ride to New York in an orange and white Federal Bureau of Prisons bus.
INS spokesmen said the jail in New York and the prison in Orange County, about 60 miles northwest of the city, offered the best available facilities for holding the Iranians while they are being processed.
Although indications were that deportation proceedings would begin against most or all of the Iranians, officials said that any who could show compliance with INS regulations and conditions of their visas would be released.
Last night's moves, whose destinations were concealed until the last moment, came amid indications that the treatment of the Iranians was becoming increasingly sensitive as a foreign policy issue.
In Iran, the revolutionary regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, whom most or all of the demonstrators apparently support, has stepped up its charges of alleged police brutality against them. It has been hinted that the handling of the demonstrators could affect the status of the 52 U.S. hostages in Iran.
Meanwhile, in Washington both the State and Justice Departments were involved in the D.C. government's decision to drop the disorderly conduct charges against the Iranians.
Under a seven-month-old INS regulation, all aliens must provide "full and truthful disclosure of all information requested" by agents or face possible deportation. Since being arrested Sunday during sporadically violent demonstrations here, the Iranians have refused to divulge their names or other information, and INS agents were ordered late Sunday to strictly enforce the regulation.
The INS filed warrants against the Iranians while they were in the D.C. jail and took them into custody when they were released.
Deportation proceedings began here yesterday against the 17 women who were released from the jail Thursday night. The women, some of whom had kicked and screamed as the INS seized them, were charged with violating the INS's full disclosure regulations. Bond was set at $10,000 for each woman before they were taken to New York.
Late yesterday, the Iranian government, through its Washington lawyers, formally asked the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia to investigate charges that the demonstrators were mistreated during their both arrests and subsequent incarceration.
After reviewing news film and articles about Sunday's arrests, attorneys in the firm of Abourezk, Shack and Mendenhall said "police officers and other law enforcement authorities illegally assaulted, illegally arrested," and generally "deprived hundreds of Iranian students of their civil rights."
"Police like savage dogs physically attacked Muslim girls and boys," beating and kicking 50 to 60 demonstrators, a religious leader announced in Tehran yesterday, according to broadcasts monitored outside Iran. (Washington hospitals reported a total of 35 injured demonstrators Sunday. Police acknowledged that several violent encounters with demonstrators occurred, but they denied using excessive force.)
The 193 Iranians were arrested last Sunday after they periodically clashed with D.C. police and anti-Khomeini Iranians who were holding a simultaneous demonstration to protest the July 22 assassination of a former Iranian diplomat who had served the government of the deposed shah of Iran. Some police officers were observed clubbing individual demonstrators with night sticks during confrontations.
Geoffrey M. Alprin, the city government's chief prosecutor, said the disorderly conduct charges were dropped against the demonstrators because they had been at the D.C. jail for five days -- the maximum time they would likely spend if convicted.
A trial date of Aug. 18 had been set for Iranians on the disorderly conduct charges. They had been denied pre-trial release on bond after they declined to give their names to police or at their preliminary court appearance on Monday.
INS officials said they were moving the demonstrators to federal facilities elsewhere because the agency lacks sufficient detention space here. Also, they said, available administrative judges elsewhere can expedite the planned deportation hearings.
The federal correctional institution in Otisville, just south of New York's Catskill Mountain area, is a new minimum security prison that opened May 5.
The prison, which now houses 88 inmates, has a capacity of 445, according to a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The federal jail in Manhattan, known as the Metropolitan Correctional Center, is a high-rise facility that houses both men and women.
Iranian men, refusing to give INS agents their names, will be given the same two choices extended to the women earlier in the day -- leave the country voluntarily and immediately for Tehran with all costs paid by the U.S. government or stay and face deportation hearings, an INS spokesman said.
The women chose the latter, and INS officials say they expect the men to follow suit.
The regulations requiring students and other aliens here on temporary visas to provide "full and truthful" information in response to INS requests were specifically adopted as part of a get-tough policy that followed the seizing of the American hostages in Tehran last November.
If a demonstrator gives his name, agents will then determine if he is in this country legally. If he is not violating his visa, he will be released, said INS spokesman John Russell.
The deportation hearings will begin seven days after the Iranians are served with an order to show cause why they should be allowed to remain in the U.S., Russell explained.
Even if an Iranian is ordered out of the country by an INS administrative judge, the order can be appealed, taking up to another six months. During their stay at D.C. jail, the Iranians were generally cooperative, according to corrections officials, except for a minor incident Tuesday morning when six guards first tried to count prisoners.
Some prisoners were sprayed with a chemical irritant when they refused to disperse from around a door leading into their area, officials said, but none was injured.
The prisoners refused to eat any solid food and drank only sugar and water at nights, officials said. They did little damage to the jail but scribbled the walls with slogans written with soap and toothpaste.