WASHINGTON (AP) — The top American diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overrun by Iranian protesters in 1979 has died. L. Bruce Laingen was 96.

Laingen’s son Chip says his father died Monday in Bethesda, Maryland.

Laingen was one of 52 Americans held hostage for more than a year during the U.S.-Iranian standoff that hobbled Jimmy Carter’s presidency

Laingen went to Iran in June 1979 as chargé d’affaires for what was expected to be a short assignment. Protesters took over the embassy that November.

For 444 days, the plight of the American hostages was a daily news story — and a never-ending political drag for Carter.

Laingen was born and raised on a farm in southern Minnesota. Survivors include his wife, Penelope, and three sons.

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