As an Iranian whose English is getting better but still needs work, Danyal Mohammadzadeh didn’t really know what a Catch 22 was until he was caught in one this February. He knows now. It’s an illogical glitch keeping him from being granted asylum in the United States that he has sought for more than a year and a half. He has seemingly incontrovertible proof that he gave information to American diplomats that puts him in danger with officials in his home country. People around the world have seen or can see this proof, in fact, but federal employees, including those with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, are forbidden to look at it. Information about Mohammadzadeh’s actions as a student protester in Iran came out in the form of a diplomatic cable, one of a quarter-million classified messages that were released to the world in 2010 by Wikileaks, an outfit that specializes in securing and publicizing secret government documents. One of those cables from a diplomat at the American Embassy in Istanbul to the State Department discusses how two Iranian student protesters had given information about conditions in Iran during a time of protest over election fraud. The cable warns that Mohammadzadeh’s name should be strictly protected because of the danger to him. He seemed safe until a few years later when his wife was stopped at the Tehran airport and held for questioning about him. It would seem Iranian officials had read the Wikileaks cable as well. So, Mohammadzadeh applied for asylum in the U.S. in February 2014. By order of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, it turns out, all federal employees not specifically authorized are barred from going to the Wikileaks website and looking at the cables. Protecting information already released globally, including to Iranian authorities, meant Mohammadzadeh was left unprotected. His entire case for asylum was based on the Wikileaks dump of cables that exposed him to grave danger.
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