NEW YORK – The lawyer for an Iranian cameraman who accompanied President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the U.S. for the U.N. General Assembly and is seeking asylum said Tuesday that his client did so because he was concerned for his safety if he went back to Iran.
Paul O'Dwyer is representing Hassan Gol Khanban, who is in his 40s and has been a videographer with the Iranian News Agency for years. He has traveled abroad with Ahmadinejad before.
O'Dwyer said his client had been asked to do things by the Iranian presidential delegation that he had refused to do, and was concerned about what would happen upon returning to Iran, which prompted his defection.
"He was feeling threatened because of what he thought would happen when he went back," O'Dwyer said in an interview with The Associated Press. "There were demands made on him by the presidential detail while he was here to do things that he did not want to do. He was obviously very, very concerned about what the repercussions to him would be when he went back to Iran for disobeying those orders."
O'Dwyer said his client's wife and two young children have left Iran, as well. Khanban "is very, very concerned obviously about his family. His immediate family who have left Iran, and his extended family who are still in Iran, and obviously he is concerned for himself," he said.
O'Dwyer said an application for Khanban's asylum has been submitted to the Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services.