A veteran Iranian diplomat based in Norway has resigned his post, denounced his government and urged colleagues around the world to do the same after the regimes brutal suppression of huge opposition demonstrations last month. Mohammed-Reza Heydari, Irans consul in Oslo, is the first Iranian diplomat to publicly quit and condemn the regime. He revealed that it sought to lure him back to Tehran after rumours of his defection surfaced last week. At the time, the Iranian Foreign Ministry insisted that the rumours were baseless. In an interview with the Norwegian television channel NRK, Mr Heydari said that he decided to resign after Iranian security forces killed a dozen demonstrators on December 27. I hope my friends and colleagues in other parts of the world who see and hear me now and know me will move in the same direction as their people. I hope they will manage to sacrifice some personal interests and rather think of what is in the interest of their people and their nation, he said. Mr Heydari said that he did not fear for his life, but in the past the regime has arrested the relatives of those, such as Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel peace laureate, who criticise it from abroad. Opposition websites said that Mr Heydaris brother was a well-known Iranian television presenter. Irans police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, said yesterday that anyone caught using text messages or e-mails to organise demonstrations would be prosecuted. The Arabic television channel al-Arabiya reported on Sunday that 27 Iranian diplomats had resigned in protest at the crackdown on the opposition, including one in Britain and two each in France and Germany. This has not been confirmed, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that it was unaware of any Iranian diplomat in London leaving. However, Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at the University of St Andrews, said it was possible that diplomats had left their jobs quietly to avoid reprisals against relatives in Iran. Its well known that theres a lot of unhappiness in the civil service generally, he said, adding that it was striking how scarcely a single Iranian ambassador around the world had defended the regime publicly since the disputed election in June. Thats their job, he said. Their silence was more surprising because most were appointed by President Ahmadinejad when he purged their reform-minded predecessors after his first election victory in 2005. Mr Heydari, who is married with two sons, has spent 20 years in the Iranian diplomatic service, the last three as consul in Olso. He told NRK that he had been agonising since the election, which was regarded as fraudulent, and the regimes subsequent efforts to crush the opposition through violence, mass arrests, beatings and show trials. Ive been going through an inner struggle during the past seven months and wondering how this could happen in my country, Mr Heydari said. The final straw came last month when the security forces opened fire on demonstrators during the Shia holy day of Ashura the climax of the month of Muharram, during which it is forbidden to shed blood. My countrymen bled on Ashura for the sole reason that they wanted freedom and what the West calls democracy, he said. Frankly, my conscience could no longer take seeing these pictures. That is when I announced that I would resign so that the people would know we are on the same side. NRK reported his resignation on January 5, but the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied the report. Ramin Mehmanparast, its spokesman, said: The report is baseless. The ministry was making efforts to get Mr Heydari back on side, sending an official from Tehran to talk to him. It promised that he would not be punished if he rescinded his resignation and returned home. They suggested that I give an interview in which I would deny that I had resigned and then return to Iran. They also wanted me to announce publicly that what NRK had reported was a lie, he said. I refused to go along with that. I know that the path I have chosen is the right one, and my conscience is clear. Mr Heydari has not yet applied for political asylum in Norway, but he was approached by the Norwegian police. I told them to just do whatever they thought was necessary, But I understand that they are keeping an eye on our home, he said. (The Times)