TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania has expelled Iran’s ambassador and another diplomat for “damaging its national security”, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Albania did not identify the two, and did not say when they were expelled or if they had left the NATO member country, but told Reuters it had consulted its alliance partners on the decision. An Iranian diplomat contacted by Reuters did not answer questions, and phone calls to the Iranian Embassy in Tirana went unanswered.
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, who played a major role in U.S. President Donald Trump’s order in May to pull the United States out of the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, publicly supported Albania’s decision.
“Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania just expelled the Iranian ambassador, signaling to Iran’s leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated,” Bolton said in a Twitter post. “We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behaviour in Europe and across the globe.”
Since Albania took in about 3,000 members of the banned Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, it has entered an arena of propaganda clashes between its members and Iranian efforts to discredit them.
Bolton and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, now one of Trump’s lawyers, have visited the group in Albania, where it built a big camp near the village of Manze on the Adriatic Sea.
Reporting by Benet Koleka in Tirana; editing by Grant McCool