The United States reportedly denied entry Monday to NATO’s former Secretary General Javier Solana — who played a key role in negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — over a visit he made to Iran in 2013.
According to the New York Times, Solana, 75, said Monday that his application to renew the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was rejected for the first time. Solana, a Spanish citizen, reportedly said he was invited to Iran in 2013 for the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani and did not hold an official government post at that time.
“I went there to represent all those who had been involved in the negotiations,” Solana reportedly told Spanish TV. “It’s a bit of a mean decision,” he said regarding the United States’ decision to deny him the ESTA. In another interview, he reportedly said the decision was “petty.” However, in an interview with the daily paper El País, Solana reportedly said that he considered the decision to deny him entry over his visit to Iran “to be more bureaucratic than political.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, “Starting on January 12, 2009, any person entering the United States under the visa waiver program is required to hold an approved ESTA Travel Authorization.” The ESTA authorization must be requested no less than 72 hours prior to travel and is reportedly available to citizens of 38 countries.
The ESTA “determines the eligibility of visitors from certain countries to travel to the United States without having to apply for a visa,” noted the Times. Because Solana’s request was rejected, he must apply to enter the U.S. through a visa, which is a longer and more costly process.
Despite this, the AFP reported that Solana said, “I’m going to try and make sure they let me go over, I need to go as I work there, I’m a professor in several universities.”
In 2016, the Obama administration tightened restrictions on the visa waiver program which prevented citizens of 38 countries who had traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and/or Yemen after March 1, 2011, from entering the United States through the online application process.
When the Trump administration implemented the temporary visa waiver program, the media dubbed it a “Muslim ban.” As Breitbart News previously reported: “Eighty-seven percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims were not affected by President Donald Trump’s Friday decision to temporarily withhold visas from citizens of seven Middle Eastern countries.”