Opposition group says Iranian diplomat in Finland quits post to oppose Islamic Republic

PARIS (AP) — A ranking diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Finland said Friday he has quit his job to protest the Islamic Republic's treatment of its citizens.

Hossein Alizadeh said he had held the No. 2 post at the embassy in Helsinki as deputy head of mission. He said he informed the embassy four days ago of his decision to quit after staying off the job for nearly a month.

"I don't consider myself anymore a diplomat standing beside a brutal Iranian regime," Alizadeh said in a telephone interview from the Finnish capital.

He said that "I have let the embassy now that I have resigned from my job and ... I'm not anymore a diplomat. I am a political dissident."

Alizadeh said he was considering how to more forward, and so far had not applied for political asylum.

The Iranian Embassy in Helsinki did not answer its phone on Friday evening and messages could not be left.

Finland's Foreign Ministry said it was unaware of Alizadeh's case.

Alizadeh is the second Iranian diplomat in Europe known to have cast off his job to protest the Iranian government's policies and crackdown on citizens.

Iranian consular official Mohammed Reza Heydari left his post in Oslo, Norway, in January, and was granted political asylum in that country.

Alizadeh said he has joined no particular movement, "just the general green movement of the Iranian nation."

The so-called Green movement grew out of unrest that followed the June 2009 disputed presidential election in which the opposition says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected through fraud. Street protests led to massive arrests in an ongoing crackdown.

A Europe-based opposition movement which calls itself the Green Wave initially announced Alizadeh's decision to leave his post. Heydari has joined ranks with that movement, led by Amir Hossein Jahanchahi, and was visiting with Alizadeh.

However, Alizadeh told The Associated Press that "the only movement is the Iranian green movement that I can consider myself part of, among millions and millions of Iranians."

Alizadeh said he held the post of charge d'affaires before becoming deputy head of mission at the embassy in Helsinki.