Iran silent over defection of diplomat
Quick processing expected for Hossein Alizadeh’s asylum application
The government of Iran did not issue any additional comment on Monday over the resignation of Hossein Alizadeh, the deputy head of mission of the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki.
Alizadeh resigned his position on Friday, and on Monday he said that he was seeking political asylum in Finland.
The Iranian Embassy in Finland issued a short statement, in which it reiterated what the country’s Foreign Ministry had said during the weekend - that Alizadeh’s term in office had concluded already on the 20th of August. Alizadeh denies this.
“My term of office is not over. I resigned because I am a political dissident”, Alizadeh said at a press conference on Monday.
Director General Jorma Vuorio of the Finnish Immigration Service says that the only special treatment that Alizadeh will get in the processing of his asylum application may be processed in an expedited manner.
“The case has been so heavily in the public eye that a fast process is in everyone’s interests”, Vuorio says. At its fastest, the decision could come in a few weeks. Handling of asylum application generally takes between six months and a year.
He would not comment on the specifics of the case, but he noted that one starting point is a ban on sending people back to conditions where their lives might be in danger.
Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors (Swed. People’s Party) said in Brussels on Monday that the case of Hossein Alizadeh would be handled by the Immigration Service like the application of any other Iranian applicant.
From the beginning of 2008 through July this year, the Immigration Service handled the asylum applications of 302 Iranian citizens, 99 of which were approved.
Thors said that those deciding on the asylum request need to take into consideration possible changes in the applicant’s home country after his departure.
Also needing consideration are factors such as opinions that the applicant may have expressed, which might cause problems at home.
“The case of this diplomat will probably open people’s eyes to the fact that there are people over there [in Iran] who are being persecuted”, Thors said. She did not want to voice her own opinion on the matter, and emphasised that Finland does not want to politicise the case.
Alizadeh says that in Iran he could face the death penalty. “Even here I am worried for the safety of myself and my family.”
Alizadeh said that after announcing his resignation, he has received “aggressive e-mails”.
He said that his defection was prompted by the cruelty of the current regime in Iran, and the electoral fraud in the re-election of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.
Alizadeh showed reporters a confidential document in which the Iranian Foreign Ministry ordered its embassies not to comment on the results of the elections in any way.
He says that the orders were issued before the votes were even counted.
“I have never received such instructions in my entire life.”
The former diplomat now plans to start working actively in the opposition “green movement”, which opposes the Iranian regime.
He is the third Iranian diplomat known to have resigned in Europe to protest the current government.
Iran’s consul in Norway resigned in January and was granted asylum there in February.
The Associated Press reported on Monday evening that an Iranian press envoy had resigned from the Iranian Embassy in Belgium and flown to Oslo.
Thors says that the cases will not affect Finnish decision-making.
She added that different countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area come to very different conclusions when deciding on asylum applications.
Alizadeh said that the Iranian Embassy in Oslo had received instructions to prevent similar occurrences “by all possible means”.
Previously in HS International Edition:
High-ranking Iranian diplomat in Helsinki quits to protest current government (13.9.2010)