Iranian athlete seeks asylum in France - report

According to Radio Farda, Shahnavazi stated that the Islamic Republic Weightlifting Federation never provided him with financial support to participate in international competitions.

Supporters of Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), attend a rally in Villepinte, near Paris, France (photo credit: REUTERS/REGIS DUVIGNAU)
Supporters of Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), attend a rally in Villepinte, near Paris, France
(photo credit: REUTERS/REGIS DUVIGNAU)
Iranian powerlifter Amir Mohammad Shahnavazi announced he would not go back to Iran and he was seeking asylum in France, Radio Farda reported on Friday.
"I left Iran via Turkey, and after 27 days of hardship, illegally arrived in France, where I have decided to seek asylum, and stay," Shahnavazi told the Iranian branch of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
According to Radio Farda, Shahnavazi stated that the Islamic Republic Weightlifting Federation never provided him with financial support to participate in international competitions.
He also called Tehran's authorities corrupted and incompetent.
"I still love my country, and I used to participate in the national games with the same love. I just left my country of birth to avoid my own destruction," he added.
Earlier this year, Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei announced he would not compete for Iran any more after he was pressured by his country's authorities to throw a world judo championships semi-final in to avoid fighting an Israeli opponent.
Following the episode, the International Judo Federation (IJF) suspended Iran from competing in any future judo competition.