A Iranian cameraman who came to New York as part of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United Nations last week is reportedly seeking asylum in the United States. According to the Associated Press, Hassan Gol Khanban came to the States as part of the 140-person Iranian entourage attending last week's General Assembly meeting, but he managed to stay behind and find a New York lawyer to represent him. The lawyer made the announcement about the asylum request on Sunday night, but didn't provide any other details about his client's decision or how he slipped out of the group.
Perhaps he stepped away during one of the Iranians' many shopping trips. The New York Daily News reported that members of the Iranian delegation spent most of their free time shopping for drug store staples like Tylenol, shampoos, vitamins, and discount shoes that they can't get back home due to tough international sanctions. All while the president and his team settled down on two whole floors of the posh Warwick Hotel.
It's not clear under what grounds Khanban can apply for asylum, but the lack of press freedom in Iran is a good start. The Tehran bureau was convicted in court for "spreading lies," simply for referring to a group of martial students as "assassins." The bureau has since been shut down and the rest of the staff moved to Dubai, but even issuing a correction didn't spare her from a trial and a pending punishment.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.