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Former hostages ask for investigation

Eight Americans held hostage in Iran during the Carter presidency called Thursday for a full-scale congressional investigation of allegations that the Reagan-Bush campaign conspired to delay their release. "The question of whether there is evidence of wrongdoing must be answered by an unbiased, bipartisan congressional investigation with full subpoena power," the former hostages said in an open letter to Congress.

The letter was signed by Charles Scott, Barry Rosen, Moorhead Kennedy, Jerry Plotkin, David Roeder, Robert Ode, Kevin Hermening and Donald Hohman, who were among the 52 hostages taken when radicals overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979.

They were released 444 days later on Jan. 20, 1981, minutes after Ronald Reagan _ who crushed Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter in voting heavily influenced by the hostage issue _ was sworn in as president.

House investigators have been conducting an informal inquiry since the publication April 15 of an article by Gary Sick, a National Security Council staff member at the time of hostage crisis.

Sick, now a professor at Columbia University, wrote in the New York Times that he had reports from a number of sources that Reagan-Bush campaign strategists worked secretly with Iranians to delay the release of the hostages until after the 1980 election. However, he had no hard evidence that the reports were true.

Bush has denied any involvement in such a scheme.