An Iranian state news journalist fled from Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s press pool and applied for residency in Sweden last week, according to authorities.
Amir Tohid Fazel, a journalist for the hardline Moj News Agency, said in an interview with Swedish national broadcaster SVT that he claimed “asylum” because a colleague from Tehran warned him that four Iranian government agents had visited his office with an arrest warrant.
Fazel said he had published a list of “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.”
While Fazel said he only reproduced part of a much larger list that he received from an unnamed member of Iran’s parliament, he added that after publication the Iranian government officially announced that they would take legal action against him.
“I knew they were coming after me,” he told STV.
CNN reached out to Iranian officials for comment but did not receive a response.
Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs said it was “aware of the case” but “has not discussed it with representatives of Iran,” spokesman Buster Mirow Emitslöf told CNN Tuesday.
“Matters of asylum are handled by the Swedish Migration Agency,” Emitslöf added.
A statement on Tuesday from the Swedish Migration Agency, said Fazel applied for residency on August 21.
The agency would not confirm that Fazel has applied for asylum, merely that he had applied for “residency,” explaining to CNN: “The reason why a person has applied for residency in Sweden, i.e. because of studies, asylum or family connections, is information that is not made public.”
Fazel explained to SVT that it was very difficult to get away from Zarif’s traveling press pool because they were “surrounded by 48 security agents traveling with the foreign minister.”
Since his escape, Fazel’s wife has been dismissed from her job and his child has experienced difficulties registering for school, he said.
“It has been very difficult on my family,” he added.