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.
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 to return to Iran” because of his perceived political beliefs, CNN reported.
"He's perceived as not being a supporter, or being an opponent of the Iranian regime," O'Dwyer said. "[He is] somebody who has betrayed the regime and who can no longer be trusted by them."
O'Dwyer said while there was no suspicion cast upon his client prior to 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," according to CNN.
While most of the delegation returned to Iran last Thursday after Ahmadinejad addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday, the Golkanbhan stayed behind, O'Dwyer said.
Since then, O'Dwyer has filed an asylum application on his client’s behalf, which would provide the cameraman 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 an undisclosed place of asylum, CNN reported.
"The Iranian government has a fairly long reach, and you know, we're concerned about what may happen to them if they're identified by the government," he said.
Golkanbhan is currently waiting to be interviewed by 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, according to the news report.