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Ambassador blocked from US entry didn't take part in hostage crisis, Iran says

Iranian diplomats insist that its ambassador didn’t participate in the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis.

Ali Reza Moaiyeri, who heads Iran's mission to the United Nations in Geneva, was denied entry to the United States because of allegations he was among those who held American diplomats hostage for 444 days shortly after Iran's revolution. Moaiyeri had wanted to attend next week's ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

But Iranian diplomats rejected the U.S. assertions.

"He was never and in no way part of the group of students who took the U.S. embassy," Kourosh Ahmadi of the Iranian mission in Geneva told The Associated Press.

Ahmadi said Moaiyeri had previously been denied a U.S. visa on the same grounds, which he termed "totally baseless and false."

A spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Richard Grenell, said Thursday that "although we don't comment about specific visa cases we certainly would not allow a person into the United States who has taken Americans as hostages."

An acknowledged member of the hostage-taking group, reached for comment in Tehran, also denied the ambassador's involvement.

"Moaiyeri had no role in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Iran, from the beginning until the end," Abbas Abdi, now a member of Iran's reformist camp, told The AP.

He said none of the members of the current Iranian government headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a role in the crisis.

The takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran occurred a year after the overthrow of the shah, a close U.S. ally, and caused Washington to sever diplomatic ties with Iran.

Ahmadi said the Iranian embassy in Geneva would not be sending any other diplomats in Moaiyeri's place.

"To my knowledge, no other application was filed for a visa for another delegate, but the Iranian delegation from Tehran will attend the meeting," he said.

Ahmadinejad is scheduled to arrive in New York on Sunday to address the U.N. General Assembly at a time of rising tensions between the United States and Iran over the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions and accusations it supports Shia militants in Iraq.