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October 2nd, 2012
08:19 AM ET

Former White House videographer Arun Chaudhary on Iranian delegation cameraman's defection from regime

While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was making his final appearance and address as the president of Iran at the U.N. General Assembly last week, a member of his delegation was quietly contacting American authorities to seek asylum. Hassan Gol Khanban was a cameraman travelling with the Iranian delegation and identified as a part of Ahmadinejad’s inner circle. His defection could serve as a major loss of intelligence for the highly tight-lipped government. Someone who may be able to describe what Gol Khanban might have learned through his role is the first White House videographer Arun Chaudhary. Chaudhary served from 2009 to 2011 and chronicled the experience in “First Cameraman: Documenting the Obama Presidency in Real Time.” He joins Brianna Keilar on “Early Start” this morning to provide a glimpse into what knowledge Gol Khanban may have gained through documenting the Iranian president’s administration.

Keilar and Chaudhary both point out that the job Gol Khanban was entrusted with likely required a level of discretion. The fact that he would come on a trip with the Iranian president shows his close access to the regime. “He was enough of the team,” Chaudhary says. “When it comes to something, you know, a regime like the Iranian regime, obviously they have enormous security control and security concerns.”

Keilar asks what someone could learn from being that close to a leader. “I think the most valuable thing you learn is the body language of someone. You know their tells, so to speak,” Chaudhary says. So he believes Gol Khanban would be able to offer a lot of information in terms of intelligence gathering. “When you look through someone through a lens constantly, you learn an enormous amount about how they move and how they think.”