By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Ebrahim Yazdi, the prominent Iranian dissident and former foreign minister who was close to Ayatollah Khomeini, has died following a long illness, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reports.
ISNA on August 28 said Yazdi died in the western Turkish city of Izmir, where he was being treated for pancreatic cancer. It said his body would be brought back to Iran for burial in his home city of Qazvin.
Yazdi spent several years in exile in the United States, where he fought against the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He eventually became a U.S. citizen in 1971.
He also helped advise Ayatollah Khomeini during his exile in France.
After the 1979 Iranian revolution deposed the shah, Yazdi returned to Iran to become foreign minister in the transitional government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan.
Bazargan, Yazdi, and the entire cabinet resigned in November 1979 to protest the occupation of the U.S. Embassy and the hostage-taking of dozens of American diplomats in Tehran, fearing it would ruin Iran’s reputation internationally and lead to the country’s isolation.
He was a founding member and eventual leader of the secular Freedom Movement of Iran, which was banned by the government in 2002.
In 2011, Yazdi, then 80, was sentenced to eight years in prison after he was tried on security charges, including acting against national security and spreading lies — allegations often brought against political activists in Iran.
Reports at the time said Yazdi refused to defend himself because he said the Revolutionary Court was not qualified to hear the case.
He was later released on bail for health reasons.
Yazdi largely kept a low profile in the years since, telling the New York Times in 2008 that “the political system, basically, is a despotic one.”
The website of the party also announced Yazdi’s death, saying he died late on August 27.
Yazdi, who had a degree in pharmacy from the University of Tehran, and his wife, Sourour, have six children, according to a Facebook page.