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"

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    @234. DB Cooper

    "We, the West, must lead by example by changing course in the hope that Iran will also."

    And if they don't? What's the old saying? Give them an in inch and they'll take a yard?

    Or for the europhiles: Give them 25.4 mm and they'll take 0.999 m.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    214. onthebeach
    No problem. If you think hurling insults at anyone who disagrees with you makes you seem clever,

    I dont. That's why I told you off for doing so.

    To be fair, Russia, with their annexation of Crimea, started this. I wonder if WW3 will be televised, or will we have to wait for the DVD? Fine with me, as long as David Tennant does the voice over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    The United States is well within its rights to prevent this guy from entering our territory. Iran illegally held American citizens in captivity for a long period of time, causing untold suffering. This guy was a part of that uncivilized behavior. Congress and the President are 100% correct in withholding a visa from this criminal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    Why are so many people ready to defend Iran? Do you really hate the U.S. so much that you'd back a government that hangs children for being gay and has what is essentially an absolute monarchy run by a religious nutter? I'd never support going to war with Iran but I'd also never support their "government". They knew this would happen. They are desperate for approval and you've fallen for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    And yet the men responsible for killing tens of thousands on false pretences - Bush & Blair - are welcome.

    Funny ol' world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Big mistake to deny him a visa. They should have granted him the visa and then arrested his ass when he stepped off the airplane. Then try him for kidnapping and send him to prison in Texas where our inmates would offer him a warm welcome. No country that does not respect the embassy of another should expect they will be treated any better. It's a point to be made at any diplomatic cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    The American gov't is, in and of itself, criminal. The country corrupt and citizens ignorant (beyond belief). The UN is in the perfect place.

    Why anyone has to listen to the US is mind boggling and so is anyone wanting to join the UN.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    if he's good enough to serve as ambassador to the EU and Australia why it's he deemed a security risk to the US? Another example of US "bipartisanship" at its worst

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Iceland could be a good choice for UN HQ.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    213 Angel

    "Isn't it obvious these guys are just pushing for war?"

    No - they only go for the little guys. The behaviour of the playground bully down the ages.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    This is stupid. Like the two local bullies fighting over an ice cream cone someone dropped on the pavement. Iran knew this would happen when they chose the guy and the U.S. doesn't really care about the hostage crisis but couldn't miss an opportunity to try to embarrass Iran. They both need to get a life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    The US needs to be mature and accept the wind down of it's status in the world - UK also.

    You cannot fight a war against the people at home and abroad. Doesn't work

    To print money - prop up a petro dollar with intimidation, technology and market rigging and spying . . Geopolitical manipulation of foreign countries. .

    All relies on minimal level of support at home -that is slipping by the day

  • Comment number 236.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    This is all totally out of proportion. The US is not dictating who can attend the UN. In order to attend the UN this particular "diplomat" requires a US visa and the US has a right to decide who to grant a visa to. In this case they have chosen not to grant a visa.

    Tis a pity the UK hasn't the same nerve to prevent similar undesirables entering the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Americans of a certain age will indeed remember the hostage crisis.

    Iranians of all ages will know of how western powers interfered in the internal affairs of their country, of how governments were puppets or were overthrown.

    The foreign policy of Iran is of unacceptable. It is also what you may call blowback. We, the West, must lead by example by changing course in the hope that Iran will also.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Why does the US think it can tell countrys who to send to the UN ? most of the world is sick to death of america sticking its nose into the affairs of other countrys that they don't like

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Move the UN to Bermuda. Make it an advance fee for access/service with financial contributions required for each committee (e.g., security), ordered/ranked on the influence it garners. Each nation can build, or rent an existing estate on the market. Then, meet & greet, or compete, as desired; Bermuda is experienced with financial and other regulatory filing schema to escape political oversight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Interesting comments to the effect that the US doesn't have the "right" to block diplomatic visas. There is no such "right". The UN Headquarters Agreement actually nowhere states that the US must grant visas to anyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Under the UN charter the host nation is obliged to issue a visa. If the candidate is accused of a crime then there must be some sort of evidence to back it up. I don't suppose the US will provide it. This is going to sour relations further & I think this issue is designed by the US to further isolate Iran at the UN. There is no way that either side will back down now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.


    All should be coordinated / hosted outside the US in a neutral territory.

    Days of policeman USA are finished. It has become a police state that has sold out it's own citizens and is not respected at home or abroad.


Page 11 of 23


More US & Canada stories


Features & Analysis

  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • A cow wearing sunglasses overlaid with the phrase 'Can't touch this'Cow row

    Thousands rally against the ban on beef in India

  • Dana Lone HillDana Lone Hill

    The Native American names that break Facebook rules

Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.