An Iranian diplomat was threatened and harassed by a group of people on a New York City street several blocks from the United Nations headquarters, the Associated Press reports.
In video of the incident the diplomat, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, can be seen surrounded by angry protesters. A witness to the incident said he was shoved and threatened verbally before police intervened, according to New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.
According to Reuters, Iranian officials have blamed the incident on a controversial Iranian opposition group that was recently taken off the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Members of the group, Mujahadin-e Khalz (MEK), harassed Mehmanparast because he is a member of the Iranian government the group seeks to overthrow, the Iranian official said.
"There was an attack by MEK sect members on Mr. Ramin Mehmanparast," Alireza Miryusefi, spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission, told Reuters. "MEK is going to be delisted from U.S. terrorist groups and you can expect such aggressive behavior of a terrorist sect."
The incident occurred following Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad's speech yesterday to the U.N. General Assembly, which drew protests outside the U.N. compound.
The MEK is a Iranian sect that in recent years has conducted an extensive lobbying effort to be removed from the State Department's list of terrorist groups, which it has been on since 1997. Despite its history of violence, including time spent as an ally of Saddam Hussein, the group said it recently renounced violence and aimed to curry favor with the U.S.
According to an investigation by U.S. News, the group paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Washington lobbying firms and prominent politicians to speak and advocate on its behalf. Last week, MEK's efforts paid off when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton removed MEK from the terrorist list.
Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.