Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Says Diplomats' Defection Not Politically Motivated

Iranian diplomat Farzad Farhangian, speaking in Oslo
Iran says the defection of Iranian diplomats in foreign capitals was not politically motivated despite suggestions that it highlights deepening rifts among the country's ruling elites.

At least three Iranian diplomats have defected to European countries this year -- two in the last two weeks -- in what they said was a protest against electoral and human rights abuses.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the diplomats had acted based on "personal interests." The defections are an embarrassment for Iran.

"The move was not a political move...They acted based on their family and personal interests," Mehmanparast told a weekly news conference. "Their mission was already over so their claim that they have resigned before the end of their mission is false."

Thousands of people were detained in protests after a disputed June 2009 presidential vote which led to the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Most of detainees were released but dozens remain in jail.

Authorities deny any fraud in the vote, which opened a rift among senior authorities in the Islamic state.

On September 14, diplomat Farzad Farhangian, who sought asylum in Norway after serving in Belgium, told a news conference that he backed a group called Green Embassy composed of exiled Iranian diplomats.

The two other envoys to defect this year had been working in Norway and Finland.

The election and its turbulent aftermath plunged Iran into deep internal crisis. Analysts say the defections are a clear illustration of the rift.

The opposition says more than 70 people were killed in the unrest. Officials estimate the death toll at up to 36 people including members of the state's Islamic Basij militia.

-- Reuters