Sweden, EU say Swedish national has been held in Iran since last year


Sweden and the European Commission have said a Swedish national was detained in Iran in April last year.

The announcement came on Monday after The New York Times reported that a Swedish citizen working for the European Union’s diplomatic corps had been imprisoned in Iran for more than 500 days.

The foreign ministry in Stockholm said: “A Swedish citizen – a man in his thirties – was detained in Iran in April 2022.”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Sweden in Tehran are working very intensively on the case and are maintaining close contact with the EU”.

“The Swedish citizen has been arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and should therefore be released immediately. This has been conveyed to the Iranian authorities,” the ministry added.

A spokesperson for the European Commission also confirmed on Monday that the Swedish national being held in Iran, but refused to share any further details.

Sweden and the EU did not identify the man, but The New York Times said he was named Johan Floderus.

“In our assessment, it would complicate the handling of the case if the ministry were to publicly discuss its actions. In light of this, we see no reason to confirm any names,” the Swedish foreign ministry said.

While European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano declined to confirm the name or other details, he said the commission was aware of the case and working closely with Sweden.

“This case also needs to be seen in a context of the worrying trend of Iran arbitrarily detaining EU nationals, or EU dual-Iranian nationals for political reasons,” Stano said.

When asked about The New York Times report, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, said he was unaware of it.

On July 30 last year, Iran’s intelligence ministry said its agents had arrested a Swedish citizen for spying. It did not identify the man but said he was arrested before leaving Iran after several visits to the country.

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

Relations between Sweden and Iran have been tense since 2019, when Sweden arrested a former Iranian official for his part in the mass execution and torture of political prisoners in the 1980s.

He was sentenced to life in prison last year, prompting Iran to recall its envoy to Sweden in protest.

In May, Iran executed a Swedish-Iranian dissident convicted of leading a separatist group Tehran blames for several attacks, including one on a military parade in 2018 that killed 25 people.__Al Jazeera