“A Story Fit for a Film Thriller”: US News’ take on the events that inspired Argo | national news


Armed Iranian rebels search Americans living on the grounds of the US embassy in Tehran on February 14, 1979. During the takeover of the embassy, ​​the group was taken from their living quarters, brought into the yard and searched. They were later taken to another building while the assailants occupied the compound.
(AP Photo)

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and Ben Affleck’s thriller Argo garnered seven nominations. The film documents the nearly three-month ordeal of six American diplomats trapped in Iran from November 1979 to January 1980.

By the time the hostages were freed 33 years ago, the world learned that the rescue was entirely organized by Canada (without US involvement), so American News and World Report and other publications have covered the story accordingly. Full details of the top-secret CIA operation – the design of a fake movie with a real script, real movie posters, and even a staffed office in Hollywood – weren’t made public until 1997.

A poster for the film 'Argo' as created by the CIA.  The fictional film was part of an elaborate story used in the rescue of six US diplomats from Tehran during the Iranian hostage crisis.

The remaining 52 hostages were released on January 20, 1981, after 444 days in captivity.

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Canada: a good neighbor proves its worth

At a time when America was looking for allies in the world, it found a strong and true one, the next door, in Canada.

It was a story worthy of a thriller: For 12 weeks, Canadian diplomats in Tehran secretly sheltered six Americans who escaped capture during the seizure of the US embassy on November 4. Then, on January 28, the Americans were driven out of Iran with Canadian passports.

Canadian diplomats in Tehran, who used their residences to shelter Americans, risked the same fate experienced by the 50 American hostages held at the American embassy.

That is why the Canadian embassy in Tehran was closed – and its staff transported to safety – on the very day that Canada helped the Americans leave Iran.

The United States responded with a wave of gratitude. Congress quickly passed what officials called Congress’ first resolution expressing gratitude to another government. President Carter made a thank-you phone call Joe to Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark.

On a more personal basis, the Americans inundated the Canadian Embassy in Washington with phone calls, telegrams, letters, flowers, even a cake. Several state legislatures have passed resolutions of thanks. In Lansing, Michigan, the Canadian flag was commissioned alongside the American emblem at the State Capitol.

At a press conference on February 1 in Washington, the six escapees expressed their gratitude to their Canadian hosts, who made us feel like part of their family, especially at times like Christmas when our spirits were in need. with a boost. We thank them for their courageous support.

Delighted Canadians have dubbed the escape the Canada Caper. Iranian Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, on the other hand, called this a blatant violation of international law. Sooner or later, he vowed, Canada will pay for this duplicity and cheating.

A mass of Iranian demonstrators was held at the gates of the US embassy in Tehran on November 5, 1979. Iranian students stormed the embassy on Sunday, taking scores of US nationals and others hostage.

The Iranian threat has hardly bothered Canadian leaders. Flora MacDonald, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said relations between Canada and Iran were already almost to a halt. Canada stopped buying Iranian oil after the US Embassy was seized.

The breakout gave a boost to Premier Clark’s election campaign. Even former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who opposed Clark’s Liberal Party in the February 18 vote, praised Clark’s Conservative government for this courageous job. Clark had previously supported the United States on the grain embargo against the Soviet Union and on the boycott of the Moscow Olympics.

But it was the accommodation of Americans that drew applause from the Yukon to Newfoundland. A Canadian told Clark: Thank goodness Canada has shown courage in this whole matter.

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