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Sweden and the EU confirm that Swedish nationals have been held in Iran since last year

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden said Monday a Swedish national in his 30s was arbitrarily detained in Iran last year and called for his immediate release.

The Swedish government has not identified the man, but the New York Times said he was Johan Floderus, a Swede who had worked for the European Union’s diplomatic corps.

Citing anonymous sources, the paper said Floderus was arrested during a private trip to Iran for possible use by Tehran as a bargaining chip in efforts to gain concessions from the West.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told the semi-official Fars news agency that he had no information on the matter.

Sweden’s foreign ministry said the man was detained in Iran in April last year, but declined to give details.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Embassy in Tehran are working very intensively on the matter and are in close contact with the EU,” the ministry said in an email.

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“The Swedish citizen has been arbitrarily deprived of his liberty and must therefore be released immediately. This has been passed on to the Iranian authorities,” the report said. “To avoid complicating our efforts and for reasons of confidentiality, we are unable to go into more detail at this time.”

The New York Times said Floderus had held various positions in the European Union civil service, including in the European External Action Service.

In Brussels, European Commission spokesman Peter Stano declined to confirm the name or other details, but said the commission was aware of the matter and was working closely with Sweden.

“This case should also be seen in the context of the worrying trend that Iran is arbitrarily detaining EU nationals or EU nationals with dual Iranian citizenship for political reasons,” Stano said.

On July 30 last year, Iran’s intelligence ministry said its agents had arrested a Swedish national for espionage. No identity was given to the man, but it was said he was arrested before leaving Iran after several visits to the country.

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The Iranians said the man had been in contact with several European and non-European suspects in Iran, and had visited Israel, Iran’s enemy, before visiting Iran. The statement accused Sweden of proxy spying for Israel.

Relations between Stockholm and Tehran have been tense in recent years.

Iran recalled its ambassador from Sweden last year after a Swedish court convicted Iranian national Hamid Noury ​​of war crimes and murder during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s and sentenced him to life in prison.

The Stockholm court said Noury ​​participated in serious atrocities in July and August 1988 while working as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor in Gohardasht prison outside the Iranian city of Karaj. Noury, who was arrested in November 2019 when he arrived in Stockholm on a tourist trip, has appealed the verdict.


Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark. Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.

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