Hamid Aboutalebi, a suspected member of the 1979 Iranian militant group responsible for the kidnapping of 52 American Embassy hostages, was named Monday as the country’s ambassador to the United Nations.
According to Bloomberg News, Aboutalebi, whose appointment as ambassador was well known among the U.N. delegations for months, directly participated in the 1979 U.S Embassy hostage take-over as a member of the Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government is simultaneously pushing the U.S. for a visa for their newly appointed U.N ambassador, to which the State Department has yet to reply, Bloomberg News reports.
“It’s a disgrace if the USG (U.S. government) accepts Abutalebi’s visa as Iranian Ambassador to the U.N.,” former hostage Barry Rosen said in a statement provided to Reuters.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf declined to comment when asked whether the agency is aware that Aboutalebi was a member of the infamous 1979 militant group, according to The Washington Times.
The Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line was a group inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s anti-western ideology amidst the Iranian Revolution. They famously captured the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, holding a majority of the American staff hostage for 444 days until Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in 1981.
“It’s important that no state sponsor of terror can avoid paying for acts of terror,” Tom Lankford, an Alexandria, Va., lawyer who’s led the effort to win compensation for the hostages since 2000, told Bloomberg News.
“There’ll not be any rapprochement with Iran until hostages are compensated for their torture.”
In response, Aboutalebi told an Iranian news website that he only, “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.”