Iran, Sweden free prisoners in Oman-mediated swap

By AFP
June 16, 2024
Swedish citizen Johan Floderus is greeted by his relatives upon his arrival at Arlanda airport near Stockholm, on June 15, 2024. — AFP

STOCKHOLM: Iran and Sweden announced a prisoner exchange on Saturday that saw a former Iranian official released in Sweden in exchange for a European Union diplomat and a second Swede.

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“Hamid Noury, who has been in illegal detention in Sweden since 2019, is free and will return to the country in a few hours,” Kazem Gharibabadi, head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, said in a post on social media platform X.

Shortly afterwards, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Johan Floderus, an EU diplomat, and a second Swedish national had been released by Iran and were on a flight home. Floderus, 33, had been held in Iran since April 2022 accused of espionage. He risked being sentenced to death.

Gharibabadi said the release of Noury was thanks to efforts led by late Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who died in a helicopter crash alongside president Ebrahim Raisi in May.

Noury landed at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport at around 5:30 pm (1400 GMT) where he was welcomed by family members and officials including Gharibabadi, state television footage showed A former Iranian prisons official, Noury was arrested at Stockholm airport in November 2019 and later sentenced to life in prison over mass killings in Iranian jails in 1988. The 63-year-old thanked the officials and the people of Iran for his release.

At least two other Swedish citizens remain in custody in Iran, including dual national Ahmad Reza Jalali, who is on death row after being convicted of espionage. Tehran does not recognise dual nationality. At least six other Europeans are detained in Iran, from Austria, Britain, France and Germany.

On Thursday, French citizen Louis Arnaud, 36, returned to Paris after spending more than 20 months incarcerated in Iran on national security charges.

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