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Iranian reporter flees Zarif delegation, seeks asylum in Sweden

Amir Tohid Fazel bolts after being told agents had come to his Tehran office to arrest him, likely over his reporting on government officials with dual nationalities

Iranian jorunalist Amir Tohid Fazel speaks to Sweden's SVT (video screenshot)
Iranian jorunalist Amir Tohid Fazel speaks to Sweden's SVT (video screenshot)

An Iranian journalist accompanying Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during his trip to Europe last week fled his delegation while in Sweden and is now seeking asylum.

Amir Tohid Fazel, who works for the Moj News agency, told Swedish television SVT he had not planned his escape in advance, but decided to run away after he was notified by a colleague that agents had come to his office in Tehran with an arrest warrant.

Fazel told SVT he believed he was being targeted for publishing a list of top members of government who have dual nationalities.

It included “very prominent members of the Iranian government who have dual citizenship or permanent residency of countries that the government considers an enemy of Iran, such as the US, England and Canada,” he said, according to a translation of the interview by CNN.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during an interview at the residence of the Iranian ambassador in Paris on August 23, 2019. (Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP)

Fazel said he used a cigarette break — his only excuse to get away from his delegation — to sprint away from the Stockholm hotel and hail a taxi to a police station.

His request is now being examined by Swedish authorities.

Fazel also said that his family had already suffered consequences, with his wife losing her job as a schoolteacher.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to them,” he said.

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