"They just sort of hauled us out and put us on film," Elizabeth Ann Swift of Washington said yesterday, describing how she and other American hostages found themselves the featured players in a film their Iranians captors are now using to discredit allegations of mistreatment. t
The 39-year-old Swift said she and her hostage roommate, Kathryn M. Koob, "sort of pulled our punches a little" when giving the filmed interviews on the day before their release. Later the two women worried that their remarks were "overly frank" and might cause them trouble.
The two women were the only hostages in the film who are shown making criticims of their captors and detailing the conditions of their confinement.
"We were halfway through the interview when she [the interviewer] looked at us and said we were only saying the negative things," Swift recalled. "And Kate and I looked at each other because we thought we were being pretty nice under the circumstances."
Morehead C. Kennedy Jr., 50 also of Washington, said yesterday he was ushered before an Iranian group on his last night of captivity and led to believe he was a candidate for release.
"The message was very clear -- we were supposed to say something nice about our treatment . . . It was clearly duress, and for that reason I gave both sides of the story," said Kennedy, who labeled the incident "a propaganda opportunity" for the Iranians.
For Gary E. Lee, who viewed the film yesterday at a television studio, "the making of that flick" was something he did "in the spirit I felt at the time, which was that there was a possibility this thing was ending."
The 37-year-old Falls Church resident said the film portrayed his comments accurately. "I said it then, and I still say it: Other than my two mock executions, I was never physically abused . . . I didn't want to rant and rave at them. I came across as very neutral, but if they had asked me to lie, I would have said no."
Swift, agreeing that many of the hostages might have said anything to get on the plane flying them to freedom, said she and Koob probably were more frank because they "hadn't really been treated that badly in months. We were not as scared as they [the men] were, and also we were mad."
The Iranians, she said, told them they were making the film so the Americans could not later accuse them of torture. One hostage, Michael Metrinko, refused to appear in the film, said Swift, adding that she "did not have any conception of how bad the guys were treated until we got out."