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

    Just Watched

    Lawyer: Photographer perceived as enemy

Lawyer: Photographer perceived as enemy 02:39

Story highlights

  • 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

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.

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.

    Just Watched

    Iranian cameraman defecting from regime

Iranian cameraman defecting from regime 04:31

    Just Watched

    Ahmadinejad's intimidation allegation

Ahmadinejad's intimidation allegation 01:17

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 Recommends

      • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

        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.
      • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
      • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

        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.
      • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

        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.