When the 140-strong Iranian delegation left New York after the United Nations General Assembly, one seat was empty in the plane to Tehran.
Hasaan Gol Khandan, the cameraman accompanying Iranian President Mahmoud Amhadinejad to the UN, jumped on the opportunity to seek political asylum in the United States.
Khandan reportedly told his delegation colleagues he was going to the drugstore to sneak out of the Warwick Hotel in Manhattan. He never returned.
The lawyer chosen by Khandan, Paul O’Dwyer, told the press his client had sought political asylum in the United States and was hiding “in an undisclosed location.” To explain his client’s defection, O’Dwyer said: “the regime had wanted him to do particular things, report on particular things, and he was not comfortable.”
Khandan had been working with Ahmadinejad for years and for the Iranian state press agency IRIB. The cameraman had already been to New York with Ahmadinejad for a previous UN General Assembly.
O’Dwyer also announced that Khandan’s wife and two daughters, who lived in Tehran, had left Iran in the previous days, with no intention to come back. They are now in a secret location for their safety and “we’re in the process of trying to get them to the US,” O’Dwyer said.
The U.S Administration declined to comment on the story. A UN spokesman said it was an “issue between the respective governments.”