Argo Anger: We Helped Americans in Iran Too, Say British Diplomats

British and New Zealand diplomats were instrumental in hiding six American embassy workers from Iran's revolutionaries — and they say Ben Affleck's new movie doesn't give them enough credit.

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Courtesy Warner Bros.

Ben Affleck’s new film Argo tells the story of six American diplomats who took refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador after Iranians stormed the U.S. embassy in 1979, taking 52 Americans hostage. The CIA and Canadian officials then hatched a plot to smuggle the six out, with the cover story that they were Canadian filmmakers shooting a sci-fi movie.

(MORE: Mr. Serious: Ben Affleck Directs One of the Year’s Best Films)

In the movie, the six Americans claimed to have sought shelter from the Canadians after having been “turned away” by both the British and New Zealand governments.

It turns out, however, that wasn’t remotely true.

Sir John Graham, 86, who was Britain’s ambassador to Iran at the time, told The Telegraph: “It is not the truth that they were turned away from the British Embassy. We gave them all help at the time. My immediate reaction on hearing about this was one of outrage. I have since simmered down, but am still very distressed that the filmmakers should have got it so wrong. My concern is that the inaccurate account should not enter the mythology of the events in Tehran in November 1979.”

According to everyone familiar with the real-life events that Argo depicted, the six Americans first fled the U.S. Embassy to a British compound in the north of Tehran. New Zealand diplomats also helped secretly shuttle the Americans around various safe havens in the Iranian capital. But fearing that British compounds would be among the first places the Iranians would look for them, the six Americans ultimately decided that it was less of a risk to seek shelter from the Canadians.

Affleck told the New Zealand Herald that he agonized over changing the account in an effort to set up a “situation where you needed to get a sense that these six people had nowhere else to go.”

He also says the depiction isn’t totally fair and didn’t intend to diminish anyone’s role in the events. In the end, after all, Argo is still a Hollywood film.

MORE: How Did Ben Affleck Go from ‘Armageddon’ to ‘Argo’?

7 comments
Aml830
Aml830

It's a fictional movie based on true events, not a documentary. Remove the stick from your bum.

HelenaBeck
HelenaBeck

@Aml830 its a fictional movie period..  when you move the story so far from the actual events.. and in turn you humiliate and vilify the good guys the story is no longer based on fact and looses a lot of credibility..   if this was someone making a movie about Nazis and left out the bit about slaughtering Jews would you be telling people to get sticks out of there arse???

foxhunter
foxhunter like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Thre is no excuse for Affleck not to have mentioned the role that the British and New Zealanders played in the actual events.  They could have included that information in the post credits along with other information about actual events that they mentioned there.  No excuse.

ironyman2
ironyman2

Anyone genuinely interested in the U.S. (and CIA's) relationship with Iran from a historical perspective, The Patriot of Persia is an excellent read. It's a slog but chocked-full of facts, and I finished it just as the Obama administration was pointing fingers at the CIA for the Libya consulate tragedy. 

chokingkojak
chokingkojak

To the Right-Honorable Sir Puff-and-Stuff, Argo f-your-self!