May 31, 2014

Mother of MH370 passenger with stolen passport breaks silence

Mother of MH370 passenger with stolen passport breaks silence. He was suspected of being a terrorist and accused of killing all on board Malaysia Airlines flight 370, but Pouria Nourmohammadi was just an “ordinary kid” fleeing Iran in fear of religious persecution.

It was 12 weeks ago that his mother, Niloufar Vaezi Tehrani, was waiting for her son to land in Frankfurt.

Since then she has suffered in silence, isolation and under intense scrutiny after it was revealed Pouria and another Iranian passenger — 29-year-old Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza — had used stolen passports to board the ill-fated flight.

Now, for the first time, the mother-of-two has opened up about her agony and why her teenage son — who she hadn’t seen in two years — had broken the law in order to reach her.

“It’s not fair to push and point everything regarding this incident at Pouria; they need to look at what was the actual and real reason for this incident,” she told News Corp Australia through an interpreter.

“Judging people is very easy but people don’t know the truth. Pouria was an ordinary kid. He was a student at university ... and he just had a normal life.”

Ms Vaezi said her son — a kind, sensitive and helpful boy — had been desperate to flee Iran since converting to Christianity.

“People found out Pouria was Christian instead of Muslim and they started looking around him for more information and he was getting into major problems. For that reason he was desperate to get out of the country and he needed to get out as soon as he could,” she said.

“When Pouria turned 18 it took longer because getting out of Iran once you turn 18 is very difficult.

“He was planning to go to Germany to be a good person, to study, work and eat. He was just looking for happiness. He was looking to be able to speak his opinion and he was looking for freedom. He just wanted to be able to (live) without fear and being anxious.”

Pouria had also planned to marry his girlfriend, who remains in Iran.

“Pouria has a very good girlfriend. I am worried about her more than I’m worried about myself. She is a loving girl and she’s very stressed because Pouria is missing,” his mother said.

“They were both first year college students. Pouria was planning to get settled here then ask for a fiancé visa for her.

“Pouria also has a lot of friends who keep calling and saying they are anxiously following the news and waiting for him to come back.”

Ms Vaezi last spoke to Pouria on March 7, about 10 minutes before he headed to Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“We thought initially that the passport was just a made up passport. We didn’t even know that the passport was stolen from somebody else,” she said.

“But we were still very anxious about it. We talked a lot about this and I said they may realise the age difference between Pouria and the person on the passport.

“We were basically very nervous however, despite his fear; Pouria was very excited and very happy that he was coming to see me.”

But on the morning of March 8, Ms Vaezi received a call from her brother, who said a Malaysia Airlines flight was missing.

Ms Vaezi then called Pouria’s friend, who he had stayed with, in Kuala Lumpur to ask him to go to the airport and inform authorities.

“After that the Malaysian embassy in Berlin called and met with me in my house in Hamburg,” she said.

“After that the contact was through email ... But after a few emails the emails it became more like an interrogation or investigation, questioning me and gathering information.”

Having battled breast cancer (resulting in a double mastectomy) and fled Iran herself, the 47-year-old said she had been dreaming of reuniting with her son before this tragedy.

“I was picturing him coming to Frankfurt and walking by my side. I picture myself hugging and kissing him. I was just waiting for him. When my brother called (to say the plane was missing) it was just so devastating,” she said.

“Now I’m just waiting and listening for the phone to ring and for Pouria to come on the phone and talk to me. I don’t do anything. The only thing that motivates me to get up each morning is my other son. I’m just spending my days listening for the phone.

“I’m alive because of Pouria. I don’t even think of Pouria as being gone.”

Ms Vaezi, who is now having regular counselling, said that until the plane is found, she won’t give up hope. She even baked a cake and lit a candle for his 19th birthday on April 30 in case he came home.

“I cannot imagine why an aeroplane from that point flew all the way for seven hours and crashed into the Indian Ocean. I can’t accept that. I think there is a bigger mystery behind this but unfortunately 239 passengers got involved in that mystery,” she said.

“Malaysia Airlines has not contacted me at all or given me any information whatsoever. The only way I get information about the aeroplane is from media and the internet.”

Relatives in the US then engaged attorney Dan Gilleon to deal with the investigators.

Mr Gilleon said that despite the two Iranian men being cleared of any wrongdoing, Malaysia Airlines had refused to provide Pouria’s ticketing information to them, saying the passenger’s case was in the hands of the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP).

“Under the Montreal convention the final destination will help determine venue and jurisdiction to prosecute the case against the airline,” he said.

“We don’t have any information. They won’t give it to me. They won’t even respond to my letter. The investigators aren’t responding at all. It’s just like a black hole.

“She’s never talked to me about money at all. I’ve dealt with a lot of wrongful death cases and parents aren’t even going to think about money. They just want to have closure. Her only real way of controlling anything is through legal action. I don’t think that she’ll particularly care (about the money).”

Neither Malaysia Airlines nor the RMP responded to News Corp.

Ms Vaezi said her only hope now is that the search is not abandoned.

“It is the pain of 239 families. I don’t want the aeroplane forgot because of politics or lies or anything,” she said.

“A lot of people have a lot of pain but not knowing where they are and what’s happened to them is so painful. I just want to know what happened to my son and if he’s alive or not.

“Every day thinking about where he is and how he is going is very difficult. I don’t want years after when I die for him to come back. I just want to know where he is and what happened to him.”