The original story was that Mohammed Reza Heydari, a senior Iranian diplomat assigned to Oslo, broke with his regime, resigned, and received political asylum in Norway. The regime depicted him as an resigning for family reasons. Now Mr. Heydari has explained what happened.
Heydari had considered himself a loyal public official. He was assigned to certify absentees’ Iranian ballots in Norway. He certified what he found, that the main opposition candidate got more of those votes than had the incumbent. He claims that the regime demanded that he certify favorable results for the incumbent.
Iranian intelligence agents threatened the lives of Heydari and his family. They also demanded that he inform on Iranian expatriates, as by identifying Iranian participants in anti-regime protests. One was his 17-year-old son, who had paraded in protest against the Iranian regime. He refused. He claims to be one of 28 Iranian diplomats who broke with the regime. 499 Iranians asked Norway for political asylum last year; 168 received it.
Most people who do, try to avoid publicity over it. A local reporter revealed Heydari’s name. Now he felt he could not return home without facing discipline.
One Iranian reaction was to expel a Norwegian diplomat. Norway retaliated in kind.
Heydari now receives invitations to give speeches. One difficulty he faces about that and about how to earn a living is that he does not speak Norwegian (Alistair MacDonald and David Crawford, Wall St. J., 3/20, A1).