When Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi, a 75-year-old American of Iranian descent, decided to visit relatives in Tehran in May 2008, he took a flight from Los Angeles in the normal way. When he returned home, his means of transport was somewhat less orthodox. After seven months in which he was prevented from leaving Iran, had his passport confiscated and saw his appeals ignored by the revolutionary courts, Vahedi took matters into his own hands. In a daring escape, he mounted a horse, hired two guides, and began a perilous 14-hour overnight climb across the freezing mountains of north-western Iran into eastern Turkey. After that he took a bus. On 9 January 2009, Vahedi turned up at the consular section of the US embassy in Ankara and asked for assistance. To the evident astonishment of American diplomats, Vahedi appeared in good health, but for “a few aches and pains” caused by a fall.