An Iranian diplomat who quit his job at his country’s embassy in Belgium said on Tuesday that he will seek political asylum in Norway.
Farzad Farhangian told reporters in Oslo that he wants to “take a stand in support of the Iranian people and the (opposition) movement.”
Mr. Farhangian left his post on Friday and flew to Norway, where he joined Mohammed Reza Heydari, a former Iranian diplomat in Oslo who defected in January and was granted asylum by Norway.
Mr. Farhangian is the third Iranian diplomat to have defected in Europe this year. On Monday, the No.2 man at Iran’s mission in Helsinki said he would apply for political asylum in Finland after resigning last week.
The defections follow last year’s presidential election in Iran, which resulted in large—scale protests and accusations that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won by fraud. Numerous Iranians have been arrested in an ongoing crackdown, encouraging opposition forces, including the Europe—based Green Wave movement.
Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C., said the defections reflect widespread discontent about the Iranian regime even among the countries’ officials.
“There is enormous disaffection within the Iranian Foreign Ministry,” he said. “But Iranian diplomats abroad face a difficult dilemma. If they resign out of principle they lose their livelihoods and have to apply for political asylum. That’s not an easy decision to make when you have a family to feed.”
Mr. Farhangian also said top—level officials in the Revolutionary Guard in Iran were considering joining the opposition movement, but gave no details.
He said the turning point for him came after last year’s election, adding that he could not “come to any agreement” with the Iranian ambassador at the embassy in Brussels. “We have had a lot of arguments since last year,” he said.
Mr. Farhangian declined to give details about his family but confirmed that he will seek asylum for both himself and his family.