3rd Iranian diplomat defects in Europe, group says

Monday, Sept. 13, 2010 | 12:57 p.m. A third Iranian diplomat upset with Tehran’s post-election crackdown on dissidents has defected in Europe _ this time in Belgium, an opposition group said Monday. The announcement came just hours after the No. 2 man at Iran’s mission in Helsinki said he will seek asylum in Finland. The defections are an embarrassment for Iran, which clamped down on citizens after last year’s presidential election was followed by large-scale protests and accusations that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won by fraud. Numerous Iranians have been arrested in a continuing crackdown.

The Europe-based Green Wave opposition movement said Farzad Farhangian, press attache at the Iranian Embassy in Brussels, walked out Friday and flew to Oslo. The group’s founder, Amir Hossein Jahanchahi, said in a statement that “other defections from diplomats abroad will follow.” It was the third known defection of an Iranian diplomat in Europe this year to protest Tehran’s crackdown.Mohammed Reza Heydari, who was granted asylum in Norway after leaving his post as an Iranian consular official there in January, confirmed that Farhangian had defected in Brussels. Heydari said Farhangian supported the opposition movement that grew out of unrest following the June 2009 election. “He left the embassy after informing the ambassador that he was leaving and he came here without anyone (else) knowing about this,” Heydari said by telephone fr… >>>

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