WikiLeaks: Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi, 75-Year-Old U.S. Dentist Who Fled Iran On Horseback, Revealed
The barrage of State Department documents released by online whistleblower WikiLeaks have sparked international outrage, but a closer look also unveiled a compelling, highly personal tale of civilian struggle.
According to the Guardian, one of the secret cables reveals the extraordinary story of Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi, a 75-year-old Los Angeles dentist held against his will in Iran for seven months, who made a daring escape on horseback.
CBS reports on Vahedi's ordeal:
[Vahedi] became a resident and then citizen of the United States following the Islamic Revolution in 1979. He had only been back to visit Iran twice, and this time he was traveling to see his parents' gravesite.
After clearing customs at the Tehran airport on June 6, 2009, he heard his name over a loudspeaker and was asked to go to a separate office where Iranian government officials confiscated his passport. Vahedi appeared in court almost daily for seven months asking for his passport to be returned.
After the seven months of daily appeals had failed, Vahedi decided to escape, so he hired two guides and began a 14-hour trek in sub-zero temperatures over the Zagros Mountains and into Ankara, Turkey, Newser is reporting. "At one point during the 14-hour ride, the escorts had to physically hug him to keep him warm," the cable reportedly reads. At one point, he "fell off the horse, tumbling into the woods."
Turkish authorities tried to deport Vahedi after his arrival, but returned him to California after U.S. Embassy officials negotiated with the Turkish government.