TheBlaze (March 30) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has reportedly chosen as Iran’s next UN Ambassador a member of the group that took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days during the Iranian revolution in 1979.
Iran applied for a visa for the diplomat, Hamid Aboutalebi, but so far the State Department has not responded to the application, Bloomberg News reported.
Aboutalebi was a member of the Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, the militant group which took over the embassy. He has also served as his country’s ambassador to Australia, Belgium and Italy.
However, the diplomat in the past told an Iranian news site that he didn’t take part in the initial takeover of the U.S. compound in Tehran and instead acted as a translator and negotiator.
“On a few other occasions, when they needed to translate something in relation with their contacts with other countries, I translated their material into English or French,” Aboutalebi said according to a Bloomberg translation of a Khabaronline interview. “I did the translation during a press conference when the female and black staffers of the embassy were released, and it was purely based on humanitarian motivations,” referring to the earlier release of some U.S. personnel from the embassy in November of 1979.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the diplomat had already been waiting for months for his visa application to be approved, but “can’t seem to get his U.S. visa.”
The U.S.-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported over the weekend that it was told the reason for the delay was Aboutalebi’s reported role in the embassy seizure.
An unnamed former hostage and U.S. diplomat told Bloomberg that anyone connected with the hostage-takers should not receive a visa to enter the U.S.
“A controversy over Aboutalebi’s appointment could spark demands on Capitol Hill and beyond during this congressional election year for the Obama administration to take the unusual step of denying a visa to an official posted to the UN,” Bloomberg News wrote.