Canadian Press: Iran denied accusations that two of its diplomats rejected for ambassadorial posts in Canada were involved in the 1979 hostage crisis that saw Americans kidnapped for over a year. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA – Iran denied accusations that two of its diplomats rejected for ambassadorial posts in Canada were involved in the 1979 hostage crisis that saw Americans kidnapped for over a year.
A Canadian foreign affairs official said earlier this week that both men were suspected of involvement in the hostage crisis that saw 52 American embassy officials held for 444 days in the months shortly after Iran became an Islamic republic.
Canada secretly spirited about a dozen U.S. diplomats out of Iran by housing them in the Canadian embassy in Tehran until they were provided with Canadian passports.
But Iranian charge d’affaires, Seyed Mahdi Mohebi, said Wednesday that the diplomatic credentials of both men had already been accepted in other countries.
Ali Reza Nobari, who was among the two representatives of Iran barred from taking up his post in Canada, served as ambassador to the Soviet Union.
Nobari was appointed to the Ottawa posting by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about one year ago.
Ahmad Azizi served as ambassador to Germany under the administration of reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami, Mohebi said.
“They were not involved” in the hostage crisis, he said.
“They are experienced diplomats, they worked for foreign affairs for a long period,” Mohebi said in an interview conducted in Farsi by The Canadian Press.
Canada and Iran have been involved in an escalating diplomatic row over representation in each of their respective capitals.
Canada has refused to grant credentials to Iran’s ambassadorial appointees since Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died while in the custody of Iranian intelligence officals in a Tehran jail in 2003.
Iran expelled the Canadian ambassador in Tehran on Monday.
“We regret Iran’s decision to order our ambassador to leave Tehran which is entirely unjustified,” Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said.
“We stand behind our ambassador, who performs his duties with professionalism. Yes, we tried to come to an agreement with Tehran about the exchange of ambassadors for some time, but we did not succeed.”
Mohebi described the Canada-Iran relationship as “one-sided love” in an earlier interview. Attempts to improve the relationship with Canada have been rebuffed, he said.
Iran has asked twice for high-level contacts up to foreign ministry level, but those requests were ignored or turned down by Ottawa.
“We are not looking for an escalation. We are looking for reconciliation,” a senior Iranian embassy official said.