(photo credit: Channel 10 News.)
PARIS – Most Iranian military officers are not loyal to the regime of Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and would not fight to protect the Islamic Republic, a former
Iranian pilot who defected to France said on Wednesday.
reporters at a press conference in Paris, Lieutenant Behzad Masoumi Legwan gave
a speech saying: “It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of the officer
corps are in no way obedient followers of the regime. On the contrary, they are
looking for the first opportunity whereby they can openly display their true
sentiments by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of
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Legwan added, “I and a significant segment of personnel and senior
officers in the armed forces are in opposition to the Islamic Republic, and will
never alter direction until such time that our nation has been
The 39-year-old Legwan arrived in Paris earlier this month,
over a year after he fled to Iraqi Kurdistan in September 2009. In Kurdistan, he
made contact with representatives of the Green Wave Movement for Freedom of Iran
and the Kurdish Democratic Party, who arranged for him to arrive safely in
Legwan was given refugee status by the government of President
Nicolas Sarkozy, which also provided him with the necessary travel documents to
make it to his new home.
Months later, he was joined in Paris by his
wife, who was also given assistance by the French government.
his wife have no children back in Iran, though the pilot did confirm that he
still has many relatives in the country, whom he has not spoken to but who he
assumes are in danger.
spokesman for Green Wave said that
Legwan and his wife are living under tight, round-the-clock security in Paris,
though she would not comment on what, if any, role the French government plays
in providing security for him.
During the press conference, the pilot
related a harrowing story of repeated torture at the hands of Iranian security
forces interrogators, who called him in for questioning on a number of occasions
that began when he was accused of rebellion and sedition in 2001.
and following his eventual discharge in 2007, Legwan said he maintained contact
with a network of dissenting military officers, who helped prepare him for his
Though he had no clear figures on how large the network of
dissident officers in Iran is, or how many support the cause, Legwan said
through an interpreter that “for every official defector who makes it out, there
are hundreds more back in Iran who feel the same and need our
Legwan was joined on the podium by former consul of Iran in
Oslo and executive director of Iranian Green Embassies Campaign Mohammed Reza
Heydari, who defected to Norway in January 2010. Alongside the two dissidents
was Amir Hossein Jahanchahi, the founding chairman of the Green
Jahanchahi minced no words in describing the global danger posed by
the Iranian regime, whose president he likened to Hitler: “Iran is the root of
all the problems in the region. All the conflicts in the region, including the
Israel-Palestine conflict, Lebanese internal strife, and the Afghan and Iraqi
wars all lead back to Iran.”
He added that Israel is in a lose-lose
situation in regard to the Iranian nuclear program, saying “if Israel does not
attack, there will be war; but if Israel does attack, it would be the biggest
gift the Ahmadinejad regime could ever receive and would send the entire region
Jahanchahi accused the leaders of the West, in particular US
President Barack Obama, of not understanding the severity of the situation in
Iran, or the danger it poses to the entire world.
He added that the West
“has no idea how many “Iranian agents are operating even just in Paris alone,
and they aren’t necessarily Iranian or Shi’ite.”
Jahanchahi also said
Western leaders are not doing enough to help the people of Iran bring about
regime change, before adding that such change will and must be brought about
internally by the Iranian people.
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