CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour said on Thursday she withdrew from an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after one of his aides said it wouldn’t happen unless she wore a headscarf.
In a Twitter thread, Amanpour wrote how her scheduled interview with Raisi on Wednesday night in New York City fell apart, characterizing the assistant’s request as an “unprecedented and unexpected condition.”
Amanpour, CNN’s chief international anchor, said she planned to ask Raisi about the protests that have swept Iran after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman detained by the country’s vice squad for disobeying the strict dress code. violated, died in custody. last week.
Raisi was in New York for the UN General Assembly.
Iranian authorities have said Amini died last Friday after falling ill and falling into a coma while waiting with other women detained by vice squad. Authorities have admitted making arrests in subsequent protests, but they denied mistreating Amini and said they were investigating her death.
Amini’s family has denied that she had any health problems.
In recent days, Iranian security forces have clashed with anti-government protesters furious over Amini’s death, with some women burning their headscarves in defiance of the vice squad and the wider atmosphere of social repression in the country. The deadly unrest has been documented on social media.
Amanpour said she and her CNN team planned the interview over weeks and spent eight hours on Wednesday setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras.
“[W]e were ready,” she wrote in part. “But no sign of President Raisi.”
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Forty minutes after the interview was due to begin, an aide to the Iranian president came by and said the president “suggested” Amanpour wear a headscarf in recognition of the holy months of Muharram and Safar, she wrote. (Amanpour did not identify the assistant.)
“I politely declined,” Amanpour wrote. “We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has demanded this when I interviewed them outside of Iran.”
“The assistant made it clear that the interview would not take place if I did not wear a headscarf,” she wrote. “He said it was ‘a matter of respect’ and referred to ‘the situation in Iran’ – alluding to the protests that ravaged the country.”
Amanpour wrote that she told the assistant she could not agree with what she described as an “unprecedented and unexpected condition” for the interview.
“And so we walked away. The interview did not go through,” Amanpour wrote in the closing post of the Twitter thread. “As the protests in Iran continue and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi.”
Amanpour’s last tweet in the thread was accompanied by a photo of her facing an empty chair.
NBC News was unable to immediately reach Raisi for comment because the president’s office is closed until Saturday.
In a statement, a CNN spokesperson said: “We fully support Christiane and her team’s decision to politely decline the interview with President Raisi.”
In a speech to world leaders at the UN on Wednesday, Raisi did not speak about the escalating unrest in his country, but used his time to attack the West and what he described as the “double standard of some governments regarding human rights”.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com