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Iran diplomat expects more to quit in protest

OSLO (Reuters) - A former Iranian diplomat to Norway, who announced his resignation earlier this month in protest against Tehran’s crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators, said on Friday he expects other diplomats to follow his example.

“I am 100 percent certain that there will be more (diplomats) doing what I have done,” Iranian consul Mohammed Reza Heydari told Reuters in an interview.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed Heydari’s resignation announcement, saying his posting had ended.

Heydari said he made his final decision to leave his job after the bloodiest unrest since the aftermath of a disputed June presidential poll killed eight people on December 27.

“I know several other diplomats who think the same way I do and believe in the same things,” he said, adding that perhaps in the coming weeks or months, these people will publish a decision to resign in protest as well.

Over 40 reformists, including four advisers to opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, have been arrested since the December unrest. “I am deeply concerned about the Iranian people, and I could not stay passive and witness what was going on, I had to do something,” Heydari said.

The opposition says the election was rigged to secure President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election. The authorities deny the accusations, which they say were part of a Western-orchestrated plot to overthrow the Islamic system.

Heydari said he had not yet decided whether to apply for political asylum in Norway, but that he did fear for his life.

“Of course someone who takes on this danger will buy some enemies,” he said.

A friend of Heydari said the diplomat had received overwhelming support from Iranian people, sending emails, flowers and offering their help.