Bid to thank pair who smuggled man out of Iran

Alan Johnson was trapped in Tehran during the Iranian revolution. Picture: Pressteam Scotland
Alan Johnson was trapped in Tehran during the Iranian revolution. Picture: Pressteam Scotland
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A PENSIONER has launched a search for two Edinburgh lorry drivers who helped smuggle him out of Iran almost 40 years ago.

Alan Johnson, 66, became trapped in the capital Tehran in the midst of the Iranian revolution in 1975 after a job offer which had brought him and his family to the country failed to materialise.

And he was only able to escape the chaos of the uprising thanks to a chance encounter with two Capital truck drivers, who, in scenes reminiscent of the Oscar-winning film Argo, smuggled him across the border and brought him all the way home.

The retired textile engineer, from Torryburn, Fife, found himself in Iran after being hired by a firm there to help set up a jeans factory at a time when Islamic extremists were tightening their grip on the country.

His passport was confiscated on arrival in the country and he was holed up in a hotel while work on the project was constantly delayed.

And as the situation worsened, he began fearing for his safety and broke into the firm’s offices to retrieve his passport.

However, he had no exit visa and was down to his last £5 when he bumped into the two men from the Capital. They worked for transport firm Davies Turner and were in Tehran to take a broken-down lorry back to the UK.

Alan hid under the seats of the lorry’s cab as they crossed the border and travelled across Europe with them for ten days before being reunited with his family in Scotland.

He has spent years trying to track the pair down without success and is now making a public appeal for information.

He said: “I never properly thanked those guys and it has bothered me all these years. I have tried various methods to try and find them including contacting the company but I have always drawn a blank.

“I was in a very dangerous situation. The Iranian revolution was just starting. I had no exit visa and I was terrified and in fear of my life.

“Westerners were already being treated very harshly.

“These two guys put themselves at great personal risk to help me. I just want to buy them a meal and a few drinks to say thanks.”

Alan had originally travelled to Tehran aged 28 with his wife Rose, now 66, and their son Keith, who was then aged three. However, he got his family out of the country on a plane to Rome over concerns about their treatment there.

His rescuers were two men in their early thirties from Edinburgh who made regular visits to Iran to transport goods.

After crossing the border, they travelled through several countries, even visiting the reputed site of Noah’s Ark in Turkey, before Alan was dropped off in Edinburgh.

Alan added: “They were a couple of Jack the Lads and we had a great adventure together. I have talked about them to my wife for years and it would be wonderful to meet them again.”

In Argo, which is based on true events, CIA agent Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck, helps rescue six US diplomats from Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis by posing as a film crew.