Iran General NewsNorway grants Iranian ex-diplomat asylum

Norway grants Iranian ex-diplomat asylum

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ImageAP: Norway has granted asylum to an Oslo-based Iranian diplomat who resigned in January to protest his government's violent response to opposition demonstrations in Tehran, officials said Thursday. The Associated Press

ImageOSLO (AP) — Norway has granted asylum to an Oslo-based Iranian diplomat who resigned in January to protest his government's violent response to opposition demonstrations in Tehran, officials said Thursday.

The Norwegian Immigration Directorate gave Mohammed Reza Heydari and his family permission to remain in Norway as political refugees after going through "all necessary information pertaining to the case," directorate spokeswoman Bente Engelsand said. She declined to comment further because the Immigration Directorate does not discuss the details of individual cases.

Heydari told national broadcaster NRK on Jan. 5 that he quit his consular post at the Iranian Embassy in Norway in protest after eight Iranian demonstrators were killed during a Dec. 27 opposition rally in Tehran.

"I couldn't continue in good conscience," he told NRK.

Heydari could not be reached immediately for comment on Thursday.

Jamshid Parvizi, a spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Norway, said Heydari didn't quit, but that his mission for the Foreign Ministry ended in December. He said the embassy has documents proving this claim, but that "it's not the right time to show that document."

"We think that he (Heydari) is telling lies and that he is an opportunist," Parvizi said. He alleged that Heydari had claimed he quit so that he could get asylum in Norway, but he wouldn't speculate about why Heydari would want to leave Iran.

In Norway, political asylum is granted "to protect persons who are persecuted or risk (for example) torture or the death penalty in their home countries," according to the Immigration Directorate.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called Heydari's resignation unacceptable and said in January that "he should continue his job either in Norway or the ministry."

June's disputed presidential election led moderate Iranians to withdraw support from the hardline government. Some members of the government were dismissed following the elections, while others resigned.

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