April 7th, 2014
07:24 PM ET
5 months ago

Senate passes Cruz legislation to block Iran's expected UN ambassador

(CNN) - The Senate passed rare bipartisan legislation Monday to give the Obama administration more leeway to prevent terrorists from representing countries at the United Nations.

The legislation, which passed unanimously, targets Hamid Aboutalebi, who has been named by the Iranian government to be its next ambassador to the world body.

Hamid Aboutalebi was a member of the militant group that seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for more than a year.

“He is a known terrorist. He participated in holding Americans hostage for 444 days, the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ted. Cruz, said in an interview on Monday with CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

“Their naming him was a deliberate slap in the face. It was intended to be contemptuous to America,” the Texas Republican added.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, said, “We should not further aggravate the pain of individuals and families who suffered through the hostage crisis, by allowing this individual to have a visa and diplomatic immunity in the United States.”

According to Cruz, the legislation makes minor changes to existing law that would allow the administration to block visas for an ambassadorial pick if that person poses a national security risk.

“Under the existing statute, if the Taliban in Afghanistan had nominated Osama bin Laden to be its ambassador to the U.N.,” Cruz said, “we’d have to let him in, give him a visa and let him move to Manhattan. Now that’s obviously absurd.”

The quick passage of the legislation was also a political victory for Cruz, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, who has been criticized for having a thin legislative record.

In an interview with Iranian media, Aboutalebi has said he served as translator and negotiator, but denied taking part in the initial occupation of the embassy.

A U.S. official said the State Department has not yet responded to Aboutalebi's visa application to represent Iran at the United Nations.

He is a veteran diplomat who has served as Iran's ambassador to Australia, Belgium, Italy, and the European Union. He has also held high-profile posts in the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Aboutalebi currently works in the political affairs office of President Hassan Rouhani and is believed to be close to the Iranian leader, who is widely viewed as a moderate with a reformist agenda.

CNN’s Elise Labott contributed to this report.


Filed under: Iran • Senate • Ted Cruz
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. 2_indy1600

    Unanimous agreement on a bill; now we'll see who the true partisans really are.

    April 7, 2014 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  2. Chris-E...al

    Ted Cruz would hate to see terror come again to the homeland as any true american would . I often wonder what the dems would let 0bama do if it did ? Dems have tore down in the few short years what took hundreds of years to build . 0bama was a fool for even thinking his party cared about him or us he is just a tool with a short rope to them . .

    April 7, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. smith

    finally some co operation

    April 7, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. The REAL TRUTH...

    This is about the only thing I agree with Cruz on...

    April 7, 2014 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  5. bob

    Now all we need is legislation to prevent non- native born people from running for congress.

    April 8, 2014 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  6. Marie MD

    Funny that the biggest Canadian terrorist in congress doesn't see himself in his own sentence.
    “He is a known terrorist. He participated in holding Americans hostage for 444 days, the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ted. Cruz, said in an interview on Monday with CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
    “Their naming him was a deliberate slap in the face. It was intended to be contemptuous to America,” the Texas Republican added.
    The Canadian messiah was instrumental in holding our government hostage during HIS teaklan shutdown. The fact that he's still a member of congress is a slap in the face of the US also. Thanks texas but we really don't expect much from your state.

    April 8, 2014 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    -–also put stringent restriction to foreign diplomat visas once found cheating on our visa system, immigration, wages, and hire people as maids, etc. These guys are as criminals as any one.

    April 8, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |