Iranian official involved in US hostage crisis dies of coronavirus

The speaker of the parliament claimed that the former ambassador was recovering from the infection the day before his death.

Iranian official involved in US embassy hostage crisis dies of coronavirus (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
Iranian official involved in US embassy hostage crisis dies of coronavirus
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
Former Iranian ambassador to Syria Hossein Sheikholeslam, 68, died on Thursday after contracting coronavirus earlier in the week, according to Radio Farda.
Sheikholeslam tested positive for the virus two days prior and was taken to a local hospital in Tehran where all infected Iranian officials are currently being treated. It is reported that 8% of Iranian members of parliament are infected with the disease.
The speaker of the parliament claimed that the former ambassador had been recovering from the infection the day before his death.
Sheikholeslam was one of the leaders of the group responsible for taking 52 United States diplomats hostage at the US Embassy in Iran following the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
The embassy takeover was spearheaded by a group of college students belonging to the "Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line," who rushed the embassy on November 4, 1979 and held it hostage until the diplomatic standoff ended 444 days later. The group at the time was demanding the extradition of the overthrown Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was given asylum in America shortly following the revolution that overthrew him.
Iran's death toll from coronavirus infections jumped on Friday to 124, as 17 died and more than 1,000 new cases were diagnosed over 24 hours, the health ministry said.
The continued high volume of traffic between cities is contributing to spreading the disease, a ministry spokesman said on state TV. Authorities might resort to coercive measures to restrict such movement, he said, without elaborating.
Iranian authorities have made repeated calls to the population to avoid public places and stay at home, while schools, universities, and cultural and sports centers have been temporarily closed across the country.
The number of infections rose to 4,747, the minister said. Iran had reported 3,513 on Thursday.
Most of the cases diagnosed in neighboring Gulf countries have been either people who traveled to Iran or who got infected by Iranians.
Saudi Arabia on Friday called on citizens to declare their visits to Iran in the past 14 days, as part of measures to contain the outbreak, according to its civil aviation authority.
Members of the kingdom's Shi'ite minority tend to keep their visits to Iran secret. The two countries are bitter rivals.

Reuters contributed to this report.