Tony Mendez was great at his job and he was a great guy. After all, Ben Affleck plays him in the new movie coming out about the six people he helped escape during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979 through 1981.
But Mark Lijek and Cora Amburn-Lijek of Anacortes, who were there, give most of the credit for their survival to the Canadians who helped hide them for three months until Mendez, a CIA agent, came up with the ruse of a Hollywood film company to get them out of the country.
Mark was a consular officer serving at the American embassy in Tehran at the time of the hostage crisis. Cora, his wife, worked in the tourist visa section processing applications for Iranians wanting to come to the U.S. They and four others from the U.S. managed to avoid capture during the embassy takeover on Nov. 4, 1979, and hide out for three months in two homes of Canadian diplomats. They escaped the country Jan. 29, 1980.
Their story is captured in a new movie, “Argo,” set for an Oct. 12 release. Affleck directed the film and stars in the lead role.
The Lijeks are played by actors Clea Duvall and Christopher Denham. Others appearing are Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, Adrienne Barbeau and John Goodman, who plays John Chambers, a movie makeup artist who helped build the fictional front of the original phony “Argo” film.
The Lijeks, along with their children, Michael and Krystyna, will attend the premier of the film in Los Angeles Thursday.
They’ll speak about their Iran experiences and the film’s version of events at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 at the Anacortes Public Library. The presentation is hosted by the Anacortes Sister Cities Association, of which Mark is the treasurer and Cora is the Nikaho chair.
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