4. Escape from Iran
Vahedi, age 75, visited Iran for a four-week trrip to meet his family and visit his parents' gravesite. When he tried to return home to Los Angeles, Iranian authorities confiscated his passport and refused to give it back, unless he paid a fine of $150,000 and instructed his sons, music promoters in LA, to cancel a concert in Dubai by popular Persian pop singers Kamran and Hooman.
After seven months trapped in Iran, Vahedi paid smugglers $7,500 to take him across a freezing mountainous passage across the Iran-Turkey border a grueling, 14-hour journey, by horseback. The horse, recounts Vahedi, seemed to know the route very well.
After Vahedi cleared the border, Turkish authorities told the US consulate that they intended to deport him back to Iran. One standard practice of deportation is to round up deportees in the middle of the night, bus them to the southern border, and then shoot into the air, forcing them to run into Iran or Iraq. Fortunatley for Vahedi, the State Department intervened and finally allowed him to return home.
As for Kamran and Hooman, they performed most recently in Dubai on November 18.