AMMAN, JORDAN, OCT. 23 -- Fourteen American men flew here from Baghdad tonight and 33 Britons arrived in London in a continuing trickle of hostage releases ordered by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in response to appeals from foreign visitors.

As the Americans boarded an Iraqi Airways jet in Baghdad for their flight to freedom, the Iraqi National Assembly voted to release all of the more than 300 Frenchmen who also have been held in Saddam's human-shield defense against a U.S. bombing attack.

One of the Britons released today said before leaving Baghdad that Western hostages at an Iraqi arms factory rioted last month to protest beatings by "sadistic guards who would punch the hostages just for the sake of it." Jim Thomson, 50, said the hostages were fed only rice and stale bread that they had to soften in water. {Details on Page A15.}

One of the freed Americans, Jared Scogna, 20, of Fairfax, told reporters on his arrival in Amman's Queen Alia International Airport:

"What everybody's got to remember is that the Iraqis expect the world to applaud this, and this was not a noble thing. It's like a bank robber stealing a million dollars and giving back $1.50 and expecting everybody to applaud."

Saddam suggested on Monday that Frenchmen should be released in recognition of France's longstanding friendship with Iraq and what he depicted as signs of French public opposition to the buildup of Western military forces in the Persian Gulf.

The special gesture toward France seemed designed to draw Paris away from the alliance of Western and Arab nations ranged against Iraq since its Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait. It was not clear when the Frenchmen would be freed, but their release would be the first time all nationals of a country have been freed since Iraq detained Western and Japanese men in what it described as a way to prevent war.

In Paris, the government of President Francois Mitterrand welcomed the prospect of the French hostages' release but emphasized that all foreigners should be freed and that the anti-Iraq alliance could not be split through such discriminatory treatment. A French Foreign Ministry spokesman insisted that no secret dialogue or contacts have been established with Baghdad.

The other releases, decided piecemeal on the basis of visitors' pleas, have been portrayed by the Iraqi government as displays of goodwill and magnanimity by Saddam. Small groups of Italian, Spanish, German, British and Finnish nationals have been released over the last two weeks and Swedish and Greek envoys are seeking similar releases for their citizens.

Scogna, a junior at Virginia's James Madison University who was spending the summer with his father at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, told reporters in Amman that he had been whiling away the time on U.S. Embassy property in Baghdad since driving up from Kuwait soon after the invasion. His father, he added, was unable to leave and remained in Baghdad.

"It's not a lot of fun to leave somebody behind," the youth said.

Scogna's mother, a Rosslyn computer consultant, learned of her son's release on her car phone while stuck in traffic on the Cabin John Bridge at 8:30 this morning. "I'm just ecstatic, relieved, euphoric," Ruth Scogna said. "I can't wait to see him."

Craig Turley, 20, of Phoenix, said he also left his father behind. Like Scogna, he was visiting his family in Kuwait when the invasion occurred and later drove with other U.S. Embassy dependents to Baghdad.

"It was just monotonous, really," he said of his time in the Iraqi capital awaiting release.

President Bush, campaigning in Waterbury, Conn., said, "I'm always pleased when Americans might be released, or if anybody's released. But it just reminds me of the brutality of the policy, the total brutality, holding people against their will and parceling them out as though to look generous. It is brutal and it is unacceptable."

Dr. Salim Mansoor of Great Falls, who headed a delegation from the Iraqi-American Foundation that obtained the Americans' release, said Saddam granted their freedom without bargaining or demands for reciprocal action from the United States. The foundation group visited Baghdad to learn more about the Persian Gulf crisis and establish its credentials to serve as an advocate for peaceful resolution of the standoff, he said on arrival here.

"We are working as a catalyst to get both leaderships into a dialogue," he added.

Another of the released hostages, William Hollingworth of Huntsville, Ala., said he and his fellow detainees were uncertain about the criteria used to determine who left. After Mansoor got Saddam's accord in principle in a meeting Sunday, the number and identity of those allowed to leave were negotiated between the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and U.S. diplomats in Baghdad.

As they got off the plane in Amman and checked into a hotel to await connecting flights to the United States, the released detainees appeared edgy but otherwise in good shape.

A member of the Iraqi-American Foundation delegation told reporters, however, that some of the older officials had health problems that qualified them to leave. Before Saddam's gesture to Mansoor, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had presented the Iraqi Foreign Ministry with a list of 69 U.S. citizens it said should be released on medical grounds.

In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman said six of the 14 released Americans were on the list of 69 people in urgent need of medical care, and that two had critically ill relatives in the United States. The six others, she said, were college-age students.

It was unclear whether any of the 14 released today were among the 104 American men believed held at Iraqi strategic sites as insurance against U.S. air strikes.

Several hundred U.S. citizens are believed still hiding in Kuwait to avoid capture by Iraqi troops. Many of their wives and children already have left on special flights organized by the U.S. and other Western governments last month.

Former British prime minister Edward Heath, who won the Britons' release in a weekend meeting with Hussein, negotiated unsuccessfully for a larger number. The 33 allowed to leave were described as mostly sick or elderly.

Britain has about 260 nationals among the 700 detainees at strategic sites, according to diplomatic estimates. In all, an estimated 1,400 Britons have been forced to remain in Iraq and Kuwait.

In a related development, Kuwait has asked the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization to impound 15 airliners that it says were seized by Iraq after its invasion. The Kuwaitis charged that the planes, including eight Airbuses, are being used illegally by state-owned Iraqi Airways.

Correspondents William Drozdiak in Paris and William Claiborne in Toronto and staff writer Mary Jordan in Fairfax contributed to this report.