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Iran diplomat in Finland resigns to protest hard-liners at home

Veteran diplomat Hossein Alizadeh says he quit because he believed Iran's presidential election was unfair and marked by cheating. He also declares support for Iran's opposition 'green movement.'

September 12, 2010|Alexandra Sandels, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Beirut —

The No. 2 diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, has resigned in protest of the hard-line government in Tehran, Finland's national news agency reported Saturday.

For more than a month before his resignation last week, former charge d'affaires Hossein Alizadeh hadn't been at the embassy, the FNB news agency said.

Alizadeh, a veteran diplomat who reportedly had worked for the Iranian Foreign Ministry for more than 20 years, said he quit because he believed last year's presidential election in Iran was unfair and marked by cheating. He also declared his support for Iran's opposition "green movement."

"What I and my colleagues did is in line with the national green movement in Iran," he was quoted as telling FNB.

Alizadeh was apparently referring to his colleague in Norway, Mohammed Reza Heydari, who quit his post at the Iranian Embassy in Oslo in January, and Abolfazi Eslami, a onetime diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Japan who reportedly defected about the same time in protest of the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Alizadeh, who is married and has three children, said he hadn't decided whether he would apply for asylum in Finland. But he said he wouldn't go back to his homeland.

"I am not going back to Iran, since I fear for my own and my family's safety," he said.

Sandels is a special correspondent.

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