Iran anger over US visa refusal for UN envoy Hamid Aboutalebi


The BBC's Chloe Bugelly: "The refusal to issue the visa has sparked anti-US protests in Tehran"

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Iran has insisted it will not replace its new envoy to the UN in New York and accused the US of acting illegally by refusing a visa to the diplomat.

A senior Iranian official said they would "pursue the matter via legal mechanisms" with the United Nations.

The US accuses Hamid Aboutalebi of links to the group that seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, an incident that soured ties between the countries.

Mr Aboutalebi says that he only acted as a translator for the group.

Congress passed a bill last week that would allow the US to refuse an ambassadorial selection if the candidate posed a security risk.

Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif condemned the move by Congress.

An Anti-American crowd demonstrates outside of the US Embassy, 21 November 1979 The hostage crisis was part of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution

He characterised those in favour of the bill as "a group of radicals" and said the move would not influence Iran's policies.

Although the bill still requires the signature of the president before it can become law, Congress appears to have succeeded in getting Mr Aboutalebi barred.

Start Quote

"Americans of a certain age will not forget their bitter anger at watching 52 countrymen paraded, bound and blindfolded, through the streets of Tehran, nor the endless anxiety felt while the American diplomats were held prisoner for 444 days" ”

End Quote Washington Times

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president "shared the intent of the bill", and would not issue a visa.

Mr Babaei said the White House decision was "in contravention of international law, the obligation of the host country and the inherent right of sovereign member states to designate their representatives to the United Nations".

Under international law, the US as the host nation for the UN is obliged to grant visas to states' representatives.

In the most high-profile similar case, the US refused a visa to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to speak at the UN in 1998. The UN condemned that decision.

The UN has not yet commented on Mr Aboutalebi's situation.

Mr Aboutalebi has previously served as Iran's ambassador to Belgium, the European Union, Italy and Australia.

He has said said he was not part of the group that took over the US embassy, and was only later asked to translate for the students.

The 52 Americans were held for 444 days during the crisis.

The hostage crisis was part of the revolution that overthrew Iran's monarchy and installed the Islamic republic.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    @174. Anonymous Please

    You need to get out more and then you would have seen Americans (US ones) actively demonstrating for war. Why not look what led to the hostage taking in the first place. You state US soldiers died trying to rescue the hostages, how many Iranians died because of the US. Know this, its not a one sided story and never is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    USA played a large part in Good Friday agreement & the conversion of IRA terrorists into politicians, which IRA victims familys have to "bite the bullet" for the purpose of PEACE.
    USA also plays a huge part in Israel/Palestinian release of terrorists/prisoners.

    It is not upto USA to decide who represents other nations, if WMD Blair & Bush can be accepted by countrys, then why not Aboutalebi

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    In 1953, Iran had a FREE and FAIR election and elected a man named Mohammed Mossadegh as their president. He promised to nationalize the oil industry so as to keep more of the wealth in the country and raise the standard of living of the citizens.
    2) The US & UK didn't agree on that, over threw their government, installed their own puppet who killed 100,000 Iranian people,
    Thats why were hated

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    179 Cosmo

    "...where an easy buck can be made by capitlaising on other's mistakes.."

    It's American banksters who have destabilised the financial markets wordwide, not Switzerland

    Neither are they in the habit of illegally invading small countries or send drones to kill civilians in Pakistan

    Nor have I seen their president sitting in his bunker watching his enemy being assassinated

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    TERRORISTS: what is differences, this is part of Wikipedia reference,

    Terrorism has been practiced by a broad array of political organizations to further their objectives. It has been practiced by both right-wing and left-wing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments.

    So why don't they both see eye to eye

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    180. Asif Smith

    Okey dokey. No comment

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Muppets! All of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    .....and what is Dave's take on the situation. Is he going to stand up for UN principles or roll over again for President Oblimey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    168. SJH
    Why is it a fitting subject for a BBC HYS exactly?

    Please feel free not to comment on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    It was always a mistake to host the UN in the USA. Switzerland is at least fairly neutral on most things.
    ...where an easy buck can be made by capitlaising on other's mistakes..

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Looks like the world's police force is not happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Move the UN to London - they take in anyone there...

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    The US offered to host the UN as place where adversaries could resolve conflicts thru diplomacy. The White House decision to reject a creditable diplomat based on political animosity is pathetic and unhelpful in the current nuclear negotiations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Every Friday in the Iranian Parliament, the MP's give a strong rendition of "Death to America" in true wide-eyed fanatical style.

    Yet these people have the sheer gall to be surprised and shocked when the USA refuses entry to one of their members who was involved in a terrorist incident against American citizens.

    Iran is an awful regime and the hypocrisy is breathtaking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    The hostage crisis is the only time I have ever seen Americans actively demonstrating for war. Nominating Aboutalebi was such a poor choice on Iran's part that it will be perceived as intentional provocation in the US. Why should the US admit a person who took part in an illegal act of war on US territory that specifically targeted diplomats? US soldiers died trying rescue the hostages....

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    WHOM they think they are interfering with the UN in name this is a independent international organization in practice are hostage of the USA.
    Is time for the UN to move permanently to a nation with out arm forces o imperialistic aim.
    The USA government is noting else of bully at the best and at worst the biggest terrorist organization in the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    The hypocrisy of the Americans is astounding; without question one of the most arrogant and dangerous nations on earth. How many Governments have been deposed by Americans, how many agents do they have working to undermine other sovereign nations? Every nation state on our planet is corrupt and use the people as pawns. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    The UN is like the Barn in Animal Farm - the place where all the animals meet but when discussions are held some are more equal than others. The UN is no longer of any relevance particularly if Russia is now black balled. America should watch out that ousted nations don't create their own assembly and leave the UN completely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    The USA generally has a policy of over reacting when deciding whether or not to let in foreigners, be they Iranian ambassadors or the general public. The American manifesto is based on a disproportionate sense of suspicion and paranoia. It is just reigniting rivalries with Iran again because it seems to be the habitually standard thing to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.


    "Only someone anti-American would come up with that."

    It might be a surprise to you but America is mistrusted or despised all over the world and also the UN needs to let the USA know who is in charge here, if America does not abide by UN rules it should be removed from the UN.


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