Iran Names 1979 U.S. Embassy Hostage-Taker Its UN Envoy

Kambiz Foroohar

Iran has named a member of the militant group that held 52 Americans hostage in Tehran for 444 days to be its next ambassador to the United Nations.

The Iranian government has applied for a U.S. visa for Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran’s former ambassador to Belgium and Italy, who was a member of the Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, a group of radical students that seized the U.S. embassy on Nov. 4, 1979. Imam was an honorific used for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution.

Relations between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. and its allies are beginning to emerge from the deep freeze that began when the self-proclaimed Iranian students overrun the embassy and took the hostages. The State Department hasn’t responded to the visa application, according to an Iranian diplomat…

…Some of the students who took the hostages formed the backbone of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, according to the book “Guests of the Ayatollah,” by Mark Bowden.

Others have had extended political careers. Masoumeh Ebtekar, a former spokeswoman for the hostage-takers, is a vice president in Iran under Rouhani and head of the Department of Environment.

Others fell out of favor amid shifting political developments in Iran. [Abbas] Abdi, one of the first to enter the embassy compound, became the editor of reformist newspaper Salaam, which was shut down in 1999. He was sentenced to five years in prison in 2003, and released in 2005.



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