IRAN: Did Tehran's consul to Norway defect because of violence against protesters?
Los Angeles Times / Alexandra Sandels & Ramin Mostaghim

Scandinavian media are reporting that a high-ranking Iranian diplomat in Norway has resigned over the recent clampdowns on anti-government protesters in Iran.

"It was the Iranian authorities' treatment of demonstrators during the Christmas week that made me realize I couldn't continue," Mohammed Reza Heydari was quoted as saying in a report by Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Iranian officials have rejected the reports as rumor. A report by the semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr quoted a source in the Foreign Ministry as denying the report and describing it as part of a Western “psychological war” against Iran.

"The report is baseless. A diplomat returns to the country when his mission is finished in another country," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the Reuters news agency.

"Sometimes they stay longer in the country where they served as diplomats for various reasons, including waiting for the end of school semesters of their children," he added.

The diplomat, meanwhile, appears to be keeping a low media profile. A representative from NRK's press office told The Times that Heydari "does not wish any contact with other media" at the moment.

Here's a report about the whole flap in Norway's English-language daily.

Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a scholar and former diplomat in Iran, said such a defection could have a big impact. "If it is true, then it is going to be a precedent, because it has not happen... >>>

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