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Dead Tony Mendez, the CIA agent who inspired the film "Argo"

The former CIA agent Tony Mendez, who designed an ingenious operation to rescue American diplomats in Iran in 1980 and who inspired the film "Argo", died Saturday, announced his family.

The former 78-year-old spy had suffered from Parkinson's for more than 10 years, his family said in a statement released on Twitter by his literary agent, Christy Flecther.

Mendez will be buried in the state of Nevada during a private ceremony.

He died in a medical clinic in Frederick, Maryland, near Washington, according to US media.

In 1979, when Iranian revolutionaries were held hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran, a group of diplomats managed to escape and took refuge in the Canadian Embassy.

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Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in "Argo"

Tony Mendez, an American intelligence agency specialist, then launched a rescue operation that involved the making of a fake movie in Hollywood, a trip to Iran pretending to look for places to shoot and to return in the United States with hostages.

In January 1980, the six diplomats left Iran safe and sound.

The story of this rescue inspired the thriller "Argo", directed and directed by Ben Affleck, who won the Oscar for best film in 2013.

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