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Source: The Guardian

Sep 11, 2023

EU ‘very worried’ about Swedish official Johan Floderus jailed in Iran

Ylva Johansson says EU is supporting Swedish government in attempt to get 33-year-old home after 512 days

By Lisa O'Carroll in Brussels

The European Commission has said it is “very worried” about the plight of a Swedish EU official who has spent more than 500 days in jail in Iran.

Ylva Johansson, the home affairs commissioner, who was previously in charge of the work of the detained Johan Floderus, said every effort was being made to get him released as she spoke publicly for the first time on Monday since the veil of secrecy about his case was lifted.

“I’m very sad. I’m very worried. And this has been with me for such a long time now,” she said.

Floderus was jailed in Iran 512 days ago but the identity of the EU official, who turned 33 in prison on Sunday, came to light only 10 days ago after a report in the New York Times.

Until then his identity had been kept secret by Sweden and the EU on the grounds that quiet diplomacy was the best route to obtaining his release.

Over the weekend, Floderus’s family also broke their silence, urging the international community to help secure his release, and complaining that he had been forced to to on hunger strike to get telephone calls.

The family also revealed that Floderus’s first consular meeting was permitted only five months after he was incarcerated. They complained that the “unacceptable” conditions he was living under in prison including 24-hour lighting in his cell were “in violation of the UN-standard minimum rules for treatment of prisoners”.

The family added that his “needs for adequate food rations, outside walks, medical checkups and much more are not respected” while his exposure to fresh air and sunlight was “restricted to only a few 30-minute breaks a week”.

They said that “in blatant disregard of international guidelines” Floderus had spent more than 300 days in solitary confinement.

Johansson told the Guardian Floderus had been on her team for two years but that he had moved to another team because he wanted to work for the EU delegation in Afghanistan.

He was detained in April 2022 while travelling in a personal capacity with friends.

“He was a very bright, very warm and an excellent person to work with. And of course, when you work close you also become friends,” said Johansson, speaking emotionally about her colleague during a press briefing on an unrelated matter.

“He’s been with me for almost two years. But when he was caught in Iran, he was no longer part of my team. But of course, we’ve been informed and I and my head of cabinet have been and are in very close connection with his family on a weekly basis,” she said.

“Of course, my feelings my worries are nothing compared to the situation of Johan or the worries that his closest family are living with every day. Yesterday, was his birthday, this is his second birthday [in jail], and let’s hope that we can have him home soon,” she said.

The Swedish government had responsibility to get him home from Iran but it was being supported by the EU’s high representative on foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, Johansson said.

Floderus’s family said in a statement published by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet last week that they were “deeply worried and heartbroken” by his detention.

He had visited Iran on EU official business without incident but was detained after going on holiday there with Swedish friends, they said.

His family said he was being held without formal charges at Evin prison in Tehran, where political prisoners and many detainees facing security charges, including Iranians with dual nationality, are jailed.

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