Canada ambassador who protected Americans in Iran hostage crisis feels slighted by Argo

TORONTO (AP) - Canada's former ambassador to Iran, who protected Americans at great personal risk during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, said Friday if Argo wins the Oscar for best picture there would be something wrong with director Ben Affleck if he didn't mention Canada.

Ken Taylor said he continues to feel slighted by a movie that he says makes Canada look like a meek observer to CIA heroics in the rescue of six US citizens caught in the crisis. Mr Taylor said if Mr Affleck doesn't say something in his acceptance speech "then it's a further reflection" on him.

Mr Taylor kept the Americans hidden at the embassy in Teheran and facilitated the escape. He became a hero in Canada and the United States after. Mr Affleck's CIA thriller Argo is widely expected to win the best-picture trophy on Sunday.

"I would hope he would," Mr Taylor said. "But given the events of the last while I'm not necessarily anticipating anything."

"In general it makes it seem like the Canadians were just along for the ride. The Canadians were brave. Period," Mr Taylor said.

Two other high-profile best-picture nominees this year, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, have also been criticised for their portrayal of some factual issues.

Mr Taylor noted that former US President Jimmy Carter appeared on CNN on Thursday night and said "90 per cent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian," but the film "gives almost full credit to the American CIA."

"There would be no movie without the Canadians. We took the six in without being asked so it starts there," Mr Taylor said. "And the fact that we got them out with some help from the CIA then that's where the story loses itself. I think Jimmy Carter has it about right, it was 90 percent Canada, 10 per cent the CIA."

Mr Affleck said he thought his issue with Mr Taylor had been resolved.

"I admire Ken very much for his role in rescuing the six houseguests. I consider him a hero. In light of my many conversations as well as a change to an end card that Ken requested I am surprised that Ken continues to take issue with the film," Mr Affleck said in a statement. "I spoke to him recently when he asked me to narrate a documentary he is prominently featured in and yet he didn't mention any lingering concerns. I agreed to do it and I look forward to seeing Ken at the recording."

Friends of Mr Taylor were outraged last September when Argo debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The original postscript of the movie said that Mr Taylor received 112 citations and awards for his work in freeing the hostages and suggested Mr Taylor didn't deserve them because the movie ends with the CIA deciding to let Canada have the credit for helping the Americans escape.

Mr Taylor called the postscript lines "disgraceful and insulting" and said it would have caused outrage in Canada if the lines were not changed. Mr Affleck flew Mr Taylor to Los Angeles after the Toronto debut and allowed Mr Taylor to insert a postscript written by Mr Taylor that gave Canada some credit.

Mr Taylor called it a good movie and said he's not rooting against it, but said it is far from accurate.

"He's a good director. It's got momentum. There's nothing much right from Day 1 I could do about the movie. I changed a line at the end because the caption at the end was disgraceful. It's like Tiananmen Square, you are sitting in front of a big tank," Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said Mr Carter's remarks support what he has been saying for months.

"Canadians know the truth and a lot of US citizens do. Those involved know it," he said. "If it conveys something about diplomacy I'll be happy if he wins. He's a good guy. He's very affable, a lot of talent."

Mr Taylor's wife, Pat, said everyone has tried to be "diplomatic" about it. Pat, who was with Ken in Iran, would have preferred if the movie said at the start that it was "based on true events" instead of saying it was a true story.

"Even President Carter said that Tony Mendez, which is the CIA character that Ben Affleck played, was just in Iran for a day and a half," she said. "I think Ben has directed a very good action movie. Unfortunately people's perception of what actually happened is colored."