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Iran Sees Political Motive Behind German Asylum Move

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran criticized Germany today over plans to grant asylum to Iranians over human rights concerns, saying European countries were turning a blind eye to fabricated stories for political reasons.

A German official said on March 8 that Germany plans to grant asylum to a number of Iranian refugees in a move that appeared targeted at people viewed by Tehran as dissidents.

"Some people who have no problem returning to Iran...present their situation as if lives are endangered and European countries also want to use this matter to say Iranians are massively moving to Western countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news briefing in Tehran.

"Many of their cases are not true and those who say such stories are just looking for gaining benefits of having asylum in those countries," he said, calling Germany's move "unlawful."

Iran has seen its worst domestic crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution as supporters of opposition candidates who lost to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in elections last year took to the streets in protest.

Germany is involved in diplomatic efforts to try to get Iran to curb its nuclear activity and is working on a new round of possible sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Western nations believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Tehran denies this, saying its nuclear enrichment program is aimed at generating electricity for civilian use.

Iran was Germany's 42nd largest export market in 2008 and is a heavy buyer of machinery, chemical products, and metals but some firms, notably engineering conglomerate Siemens, said in January it would not accept further orders from Iran for political reasons.

Iranian media said in January that two German diplomats were detained for some time during antigovernment protests on December 27, but Berlin said it was unaware any of its staff in Iran had been arrested.