Ardeshir Zahedi, who presided over the blue-tiled Iranian Embassy as perhaps the capital's most lavish party giver, has sought asylum in Switzerland, a government spokesman announced yesterday in Bern.
Ulrich Hubacher, a Justice Ministry spokesman, said an answer from his government is expected within a few weeks.
Washington friends of the former ambassador say Zahedi has been investigating numerous locations as sanctuary for the Iranian royal family since he left the city in February with the fall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's government.
Several of Zahedi's friends here expressed shock on seeing the name of the ambassador Monday in newspaper stories from Tehran listing persons whom Iranian revolutionary courts consider to be under death sentences and justified target for assassins.
Zahedi had frequently visited the shah's son, Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, 23, in Texas where he was taking pilot training. It was thought that the prince might stay with Zahedi during this troubled period for the family but several weeks ago the prince rejoined the shah and is now with him in the Bahamas.
A knowledgeable friend said Zahedi is not rich, despite the impression given by his embassy functions, and he has inherited a modest house in Montreux, Switzerland, from his father. The shah also has a house in Switzerland.
A friend who talked to Zahedi eight weeks ago said the former ambassador "will be able to take care of himself," although "he was always a little braver in the face of demonstrations than was prudent, and now he sees the seriousness of security," He said Zahedi was in good spirits and excellent health.
Apparently, few who might have been expected to be in touch with Zahedi have heard from him. Some did receive Mailgrams when he left the capital expressing friendship in warm terms.
Even those who had no formal dealings with the ambassador request that their names not be published, and one woman said it was important to understand the sense of terror surrounding those who were close to the shah and his ambassador.
"I could not believe my ears," she said, "when I recently talked with a man who had connections with those in the shah's government-he said he felt things were quieting down. Quieting down!" she exclaimed, "there are no words for terror surrounding them." CAPTION: Picture, Former ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi, despite the lavish parties, is not rich, according to a friend. He reportedly inherited a Swiss home. By Harry Naltchayan-The Washington Post