Iranian diplomat defects, says seeks asylum in Norway

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An Iranian diplomat based in Belgium said Tuesday he had defected and would seek political asylum in Norway, making him the third Iranian diplomat to defect in Europe this year.

"I'm seeking political asylum with all my family," Farzad Farhangian, a press attache at the Iranian embassy in Brussels, told reporters in Oslo, adding that he intended to join the opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"I'm apologising to the Iranian people. During the last 30 years I was of service to the Iranian people, but the deviation that the Iranian republic has reached leaves me no choice. I hope to be the voice of the opposition," he said.

Farhangian is the third Iranian diplomat this year to resign and seek protection in a Nordic country.

A senior official at the Iranian embassy in Helsinki, Hossein Alizadeh, told reporters Monday he was seeking asylum in Finland.

The ex-consul general of Iran's embassy in Oslo, Mohamed Reza Heydari, was granted asylum by Norway in February after he resigned in January.

When asked how he had decided where to seek asylum, Farhangian said Tuesday "I chose Norway because Haydari was one of my old colleagues and I'm hoping that in cooperation we will improve the campaign against the present government."

© 2010 AFP

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