Entries in Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi (1)


Wikileaks Cable Details American's Harrowing Escape from Iran

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A 75-year-old Los Angeles dentist made a harrowing escape from Iran on horseback in January after officials in Tehran confiscated his passport, a U.S. State Department cable obtained by Wikileaks reveals. Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, paid $7,500 to two drug smugglers who led him on an extraordinary three-day trek into Turkey, including a 14-hour overnight ride through the mountains in temperatures below freezing.

A "visibly shaken" Vahedi ended up at the U.S. consulate in Ankara, suffering only from "some aches and pains," the cable said. Officials later helped him avoid deportation back to Iran by Turkish authorities and fly home to the U.S. to reunite with his family.

Vahedi had traveled to Tehran in May 2008 to visit his parents' gravesite and spent an uneventful four weeks there with family and friends. But when he tried to leave the country on June 6, authorities confiscated his passport and refused to let him leave.

Authorities sought a $150,000 fine to "make the process move more quickly" and assurances that his sons -- popular Persian pop singers who use "occasional anti-regime rhetoric" -- would end their music business, he told consular officials, according to the cable.

But after seven months of unsuccessful appeals before an Iranian court, Vahedi became desperate, believing a covert escape would be his only option of getting home.

Vahedi's story is one of dozens of interesting anecdotes buried within the initial release of secret U.S. government documents exposed by Wikileaks Sunday and posted online by The New York Times, the U.K.'s Guardian and France's Le Monde.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio