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Iran Admits Senior Official Requested Political Asylum in Switzerland

Filed under: Iran

Iran Admits Senior Official Requested Political Asylum in Switzerland
Mahmoud Vaezi, Chief of Staff of the Iranian President’s office

On October 7, 2018, Mahmoud Vaezi, Chief of Staff for President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, responded to reports publicized in Iran over the past few days that one of the senior officials in the President’s Office traveled to Switzerland, where he requested political asylum.

Mahmoud Vaezi
Mahmoud Vaezi, Chief of Staff of the Iranian President’s office

According to Vaezi, the official traveled to Switzerland “for a private consular visit without his family” and has not returned since. However, he denied reports that this occurred while President Rouhani was visiting Europe in July 2018. Vaezi stated that the official’s family is very worried and is trying to get him to return to Iran.1

The Seda newspaper, which is affiliated with Iran’s broadcasting authority, earlier wrote that the official traveled 45 days ago to Switzerland where he requested political asylum from the government in Bern. The official worked in the services department of the President’s Office (apparently, the head of the office’s protocol department). According to unofficial reports, his pretext for traveling was to organize various matters connected with President Rouhani’s trip to Switzerland at the beginning of July 2018, though the President’s Office denies that the official’s trip was connected to Rouhani’s visit or that this occurred before it.

Broadcasting authority channel Khabar announced that the President’s Office is asking the media to stop publicizing unfounded reports on the subject.2, 2

It should be noted that recently, various personalities such as sportsmen, who were sent to participate in events abroad, did not return to their homeland but have sought asylum in other countries. These include two sportsmen from the city of Tabriz, who participated in an international tournament in May 2018 in Australia, where they sought political asylum instead of going back to Iran.4, 5

Two Iranian sportsmen
Two Iranian sportsmen requested asylum in Australia, citing regime corruption in sport.6

During the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, similar reports circulated about figures such as one of the leading translators for senior politicians. (This translator was interviewed afterward on the Farsi channel of the Voice of America), but this is the first time that there has been such a report about an official in such a senior position in the office of President Rouhani seeking political asylum in a western country.

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