[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official website] on Friday signed into law [legislative materials] a bill [text] that bars entry for any UN ambassadors who have engaged in “terrorist activity.” The law has been seen as a response to Iran’s choice of US envoy, Hamid Aboutalebi, who has been linked to the student militants that seized the US embassy [BBC backgrounder] in Tehran in 1979. Aboutalebi claims that he only translated for the militants and was not directly involved in the hostage-taking, but the US has denied him a visa [JURIST report] that he would otherwise be entitled to as a UN diplomat under the 1947 Headquarters Agreement [text]. President Obama has stated that he will treat the law as “advisory” with regard to his constitutional discretion to receive or reject foreign ambassadors.
Tensions have been high between Iran and the US as well as other UN member nations in recent years. In April, an Iranian appeals court [official website; in Persian] overturned [JURIST report] the death sentence of an Iranian-American marine convicted of spying for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website]. Iran agreed [JURIST report] in November 2013 to limit its controversial nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. In August 2013, the Iranian Parliament [official website; in Persian] approved a bill [JURIST report] directing the government to sue the US for its involvement in the country’s 1952 coup that displaced then-president Mohammad Mossadegh [profile]. A UN rights expert in September 2013 urged [JURIST report] Iran to release its remaining “prisoners of conscience,” those detained “solely for exercising their rights to freedoms of expression, association and assembly.”