Skip to main content

Iran ex-foreign minister turned opposition figure dies

Ebrahim Yazdi originally resigned as foreign minister following the 1979 capture of American diplomats in Tehran
Ebrahim Yazdi holds a press conference together with his lawyers, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi in Tehran 31 August 2004 (AFP)

Ebrahim Yazdi, Iran's first foreign minister after the 1979 Islamic revolution, who later went on to become an opposition figure, has died aged 86, Iranian media reported on Monday.

He died late on Sunday in Izmir, Turkey, where he underwent surgery after the United States refused his request for a medical visa. 

Yazdi was an old companion of Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic republic, and became foreign minister in the provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan after the revolution.

He resigned in November 1979 in protest at a group of Islamist students taking American diplomats hostage in Tehran.

The hostage crisis, which lasted 444 days, led to the severing of diplomatic ties with Washington.

Since 1995, he had headed the Freedom Movement of Iran, a small liberal party that is banned and has little influence in Iranian politics.

Yazdi was arrested several times after the re-election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, two reformist candidates in that election, claimed widespread fraud and led street protests against the results. 

Thousands were arrested and dozens killed during the government's crackdown on the protests, known as the Green Movement. 

Yazdi and his party were close to the reformists, and he endorsed President Hassan Rouhani's bid for presidency in 2013 and this year.

His body will be repatriated to Iran for burial in the coming days, the ISNA news agency reported those close to him as saying.