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Mo Jazayeri, executive editor of the London-based Iran Focus, a news service that features reporting critical of Iran’s Islamic regime, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Ahmadinejad “played an important role as the main security chief” inside the embassy compound.

Iran Focus yesterday circulated a November 1979 Associated Press photo that it claimed showed a young Mr. Ahmadinejad beside a blindfolded American hostage. But neither the Associated Press nor The Washington Times could verify that the figure in the photo was the future Iranian leader.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s office has denied he helped storm the embassy and said the man in the photo is not the president-elect. But the office did not comment on whether Mr. Ahmadinejad had other duties during the 444-day hostage ordeal.

Another former hostage, Kevin Hermening of Mosinee, Wis., said he came into contact with Mr. Ahmadinejad right after the takeover.

“He was involved in interrogating me the day we were taken captive,” recalled Mr. Hermening, who, at 20, was the youngest hostage.

Mr. Hermening, a Marine security guard at the Tehran embassy, said his interrogators were seeking the combinations for “safes and other things that were locked.”

“There is absolutely no reason the United States should be trying to normalize relations with a man who seems intent on trying to force-feed the world with state-sponsored terrorism,” Mr. Hermening said.