Embassy hostage movie “twists facts”

The Oscar-winning movie Argo has caused dismay among former British, New Zealand and Canadian diplomats who accuse Hollywood of misrepresenting the facts about their role in the rescue of American diplomats caught up in the 1979 hostage crisis.

In the film, British and New Zealand diplomats are portrayed as cowards for failing to assist five US colleagues who had escaped their captors. Far from abandoning them, the British Embassy sent out two search parties to look for the escapees in the streets of Tehran.

They were offered sanctuary at one of the British residential compounds, at great personal risk, especially since the revolutionary students later tried to raid their compound, failing to do so only due to a brave Pakistani security guard, Iskander Khan.

“We and the Americans had a very lucky escape,” says Martin Williams, one of the UK diplomats who took in the US envoys. “We were very grateful to Iskander Khan.”

Robert Anders, one of the five who were assisted, has come forward to acknowledge the role that the British diplomats played in their rescue: “Those guys put their lives on the line for us,” he said.

The idea to smuggle the diplomats out as Canadian sci-fi movie makers is also thought not to have been that the CIA agent (played by Ben Affleck) but should be credited to the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor, who also believes the Canadian role in the dramatic rescue has been downplayed in the film.