Iranian pro-regime journalist abandons Zarif during Scandinavian tour

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An Iranian journalist, who was accompanying Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on his Scandinavian tour, has refused to return to Iran and is reportedly seeking asylum in Sweden, according to Iranian hardliner newspaper Kayhan.

The journalist, Amir Tohid Fazel, worked for Iran’s Moj news agency and had previously worked for the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Kayhan accused Fazel of “treason.”

“[Fazel] was a political editor at the agency and was sent to Sweden with the Foreign Ministry,” Moj’s editor-in-chief, Amir Mortazavi, told the Iranian news site Ensaf News on Saturday, adding that “he has not come to work since going to Sweden.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has not yet officially responded to reports of Fazel not returning to Iran.

Iran ranked 170th in Reporters Without Borders' 2019 World Press Freedom Index, making it one of the worst countries for press freedom.

“Everyone has the right to make decisions for their own life,” Fazel tweeted on Saturday, not confirming nor denying the news about him seeking asylum in Sweden.

“Nobody knows what the future holds. It is only the short-sighted who speak without knowledge,” he added in the same tweet.

Fazel then retweeted two tweets by prominent anti-regime Iranian journalist Ali Javanmardi, saying that Fazel is “with the people.”

“Amir Tohid Fazel will soon talk with the Iranian people about this. The state media’s news has no credibility in this regard,” the tweet read.

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