(Adds confirmation by Swiss foreign ministry)
GENEVA, Aug 13 (Reuters) - A junior Syrian diplomat to the United Nations in Geneva has defected, the Swiss foreign ministry said on Monday, the latest member of Syria's establishment known to have turned against President Bashar al-Assad.
Dany Al Ba'aj served as third secretary at the Syrian mission to the U.N. in Geneva, where he was part of its delegation to the Human Rights Council.
"The Swiss foreign ministry has been informed that this Syrian diplomat to the U.N. in Geneva has defected and has contacted authorities in Geneva about getting a humanitarian permit," spokesman Raphael Saborit told Reuters.
"I announced my resignation on Friday on a Syrian web site and informed the Syrian charge d'affaires in Geneva," the Swiss news agency ATS quoted him as saying.
"I was in contact with an opposition group for some time. The situation continues to worsen. I felt that I could no longer serve my country in the government camp," he said, adding that his parents were with him in Geneva.
Ba'aj is not known to have addressed the 47-member state Human Rights Council, which has condemned Assad's government at four emergency sessions convened during the 17-month conflict.
The highest-level civilian defection from the Assad administration to date has been Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, who fled Syria with his family on Aug. 6.
But the rate of public defections has been much slower than the speed at which officials turned their backs on Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan government last year. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)