Ibrahim Yazdi, Leading Iranian Dissident, Dies at 85

Dr. Yazdi served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the new government until Khomeini, after briefly waffling, ignored Dr. Yazdi’s advice and endorsed the takeover of the American Embassy. More than 50 Americans were seized and held as hostages for 444 days.

Foreign policy analysts later suggested that the hostage taking was designed as much to purge the regime of officials like Dr. Yazdi, who was relatively moderate, as to embarrass the United States.

Joining other government ministers in resigning from the cabinet, Dr. Yazdi helped found the secular, pro-democracy Freedom Movement of Iran, which was frequently suppressed by the theocratic Islamic government.


Ibrahim Yazdi, right, at a news conference with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi in Tehran in 2004.

Henghameh Fahimi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Dr. Yazdi described himself as a “modernist intellectual Muslim.” His political outspokenness was generally tolerated by the regime because of his early kinship with Khomeini — “No one can claim to be more revolutionary or Islamic than I am,” he said — although he was marginalized and regularly arrested and charged with rumor-mongering and jeopardizing Iranian security.

“We have a political crisis. We have an economic crisis. We have a social crisis,” he told The New York Times in 1995, the year he began leading the Freedom Movement. “People feel they’ve been betrayed, that the revolution has been kidnapped.”

In 2005 he sought to run for president, but he was disqualified. In 2011 he was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, but he was released because of his deteriorating health.

Ibrahim Yazdi was born in 1931 (sources differ on the exact date) in Qazvin, in northwestern Iran. His father was a merchant trader who…

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