US Refuses Visa to Iran Envoy Linked to '79 Crisis

White House won't let diplomat who worked with hostage-takers into the country
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2014 1:05 PM CDT
US Refuses Visa to Iran Envoy Linked to '79 Crisis
In this Nov. 9, 1979, file photo, one of the hostages being held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran is displayed blindfolded and with his hands bound to the crowd outside the embassy.   (AP Photo/File)

In what may be a first-of-its-kind diplomatic snub, the White House has told Iran that it will have to try again with its pick to be UN ambassador, reports the AP. The US will not issue a visa to Hamid Aboutalebi because of his ties to the revolutionary group that seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held Americans hostage. The veteran diplomat once worked as an interpreter for the group, reports the New York Times, though Aboutalebi insists that his involvement was minimal.

Both the House and Senate had previously registered their disapproval over the visa, while Iran had warned that a US rejection would be "not acceptable." Ted Cruz and Chuck Schumer led the charge against Aboutalebi in the Senate, with Schumer calling his nomination "a slap in the face to the Americans that were abducted" in a letter to John Kerry, reports the Washington Post. "It reveals a disdain for the diplomatic process and we should push back in kind," he wrote. The rift comes as the US and Iran are working on a deal to rein in Iran's nuclear program. (Read more Iran stories.)

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