Skip to main content

Family of Iranian who defected is out of Iran, hiding for safety, attorney says

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Tue October 2, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Attorney says Iranian cameraman's family has fled Iran
  • O'Dwyer says he is working with U.S. authorities on behalf of Hassan Golkanbhan
  • Calls to the Iranian mission at the United Nations have not been returned
  • The whereabouts of Golkanbhan are not clear

New York (CNN) -- A cameraman who accompanied Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New York for the U.N. General Assembly has applied for asylum in the United States, and "he's afraid to return to Iran," his attorney said Monday.

New York City-based lawyer Paul O'Dwyer, who said he is working with U.S. authorities on behalf of Hassan Golkanbhan, said his client is afraid of persecution because of his perceived political beliefs.

"He's perceived as not being a supporter, or being an opponent of the Iranian regime," O'Dwyer said. "Somebody who has betrayed the regime and who can no longer be trusted by them."

O'Dwyer said while the cameraman didn't have any suspicion cast on him before his trip to New York, "there were things that he was expected to do that he was uncomfortable with doing," and "while he was here... his position on certain things became known to the Iranian government."

When Golkanbhan's part of the Iranian delegation returned home last Thursday after Ahmadinejad's addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday, the cameraman stayed behind, O'Dwyer said.

Iranian cameraman defecting from regime
Ahmadinejad's intimidation allegation

Since then, O'Dwyer has filed an asylum application on Golkanbhan's behalf. The attorney says that filing provides his client immediate protection from deportation.

O'Dwyer called it a "very, very major decision," with implications for Golkanbhan's wife and two children, who have fled Iran for a haven he won't disclose for their safety.

"The Iranian govt has a fairly long reach, and you know, we're concerned about what may happen to them if they're identified by the government."

Golkanbhan is now waiting for an interview with U.S. authorities, which O'Dwyer says could happen soon -- or months from now.

Calls to the Iranian mission at the United Nations have not been returned, and the whereabouts of Golkanbhan are not clear.

Ahmadinejad tells U.N. that Iran is threatened

Ahmadinejad talks Israel, slams homosexuality

Iranian jury finds Reuters guilty of lies in 'ninjas' report

Ahmadinejad slams anti-Islam film, protests

CNN's Erinn Cawthon, Randy Iaboni, Brittany Brady and Brian Vitagliano contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT