WASHINGTON – Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations would be denied entry into the U.S. for being a terrorist under legislation Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn filed here Tuesday night.
Hamid Aboutalebi was reportedly involved in the 1979 hostage crisis in which Islamic militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 employees as captives for 444 days.
He was a member of the Muslim Student Followers of the Iman’s Line, referring to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a group that occupied the embassy. He is Iran’s former ambassador to Belgium and Italy, according to Bloomberg News.
Lamborn issued a sharply worded press release Wednesday stating that a “diplomat” who once held American diplomats hostage should not be welcomed into the country.
“Diplomatic immunity should not apply to terrorists,” Lamborn said.
“The only way terrorists should be allowed into our country is if they are coming to face justice. The president can already deny visas to diplomats for spying. Terrorist activities by diplomats, past or present, should be dealt with just as severely,” Lamborn said.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the Obama administration has communicated with Iran about Aboutalebi’s appointment to the U.N., located in New York City.
“We’re taking a close look at the case now, and we’ve raised our serious concerns about this possible nomination with the government of Iran,” she said.
The appointment of Aboutalebi is sure to inflame Republicans and other lawmakers who support Israel. They have also been critical of an interim nuclear deal the Obama administration reached with the Iranian government in December.
Lamborn’s legislation is a companion to a bill filed by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. According to a summary, the bill would “deny admission to the United States to any representative to the United Nations who has engaged in espionage activities against the United States, poses a threat to United States national security interests, or has engaged in a terrorist activity against the United States.”