Relations between Norway and Iran have taken a turn for the worse, with each country expelling diplomats after Norway granted asylum to a former consul at Iran’s embassy in Oslo. The former consul claims Iran is simply trying to prevent other Iranian diplomats from defecting as well.
The diplomatic drama started earlier this year, when Mohammed Reza Heydari, who had held a consular post at the Iranian Embassy in Oslo for the past three years, quit his job and sought asylum in Norway. He was upset over his own government’s violent treatment of demonstrators in Iran, and felt he could no longer serve the government in good conscience.
His asylum application was approved earlier this month, and that clearly upset the Iranian authorities. Norway’s Foreign Ministry revealed Wednesday that on February 24, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Norway’s ambassador to express official displeasure.
The Iranians also delivered a letter to Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre protesting the granting of asylum to Heydari and requesting that a Norwegian diplomat be sent home to Norway.
Norway responded by expelling an Iranian diplomat out of Oslo. The ministry called in Iran’s chargé d’affaires in Oslo and sent a letter of its own to the Iranian foreign minister, formally requesting that an Iranian diplomat leave the country.
Støre said on Tuesday that Iran’s reaction to an asylum case in Norway was “completely unacceptable,” noting that the right to seek asylum is protected by international conventions.
Heydari told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that the Iranian government is afraid more of his former colleagues will do as he did, and seek asylum where they’re stationed. He said earlier this month that several already had.