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Source: DW

Dec 10, 2023

Iran begins trial of Swedish EU diplomat detained for spying

The diplomat was taken into custody in 2022 while on vacation in Iran. The family of 33-year-old Johan Floderus said he was detained without due process, with Sweden and the EU saying he is also innocent.

Iran has begun its trial of a Swedish diplomat being held on espionage charges, according to Iranian reports on Sunday. 

The Iranian judiciary's Mizan Online news portal said Johan Floderus was accused of "extensive measures against the security of the country" and spying for Israel. He was also charged with "corruption on earth," one of Iran's most serious crimes which is punishable by death. 

Floderus, who is 33 years old, was arrested in April 2022 at Tehran International Airport while on vacation in Iran. He is reportedly being held in Evin Prison in Tehran, the country's most prominent incarceration facility for political prisoners and dissidents.   

The prosecution has claimed that Floderus gathered intel on Iran's nuclear programs and worked on "subversive projects" to help Israel.

Prosecutors also believe Floderus was setting up a network of Swedish intelligence agents in Iran and that he was in contact with the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK). The exiled MEK group seeks the overthrow of the Iranian government, with the Islamic Republic deeming it a terrorist organization.      

A verdict in the case is expected on December 19. 

Family and friends urge release, along with Sweden and Iran 

Floderus' family has said he was arrested "without any justifiable cause or due process." 

"Today is International Human Rights Day, and on this day, we demand the release of Johan. Today makes 602 days since he has been illegally detained," an advocacy group called Free Johan Floderus posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. The group is made up of Floderus' family and friends.

Swedish and EU authorities have also chastised Iran for its detention and trial of Floderus. 

"There is no basis whatsoever for keeping Johan Floderus in detention, let alone bringing him to trial," Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said, while adding that Swedish officials "are working very intensively to secure Johan Foderus' release."  

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has also said that there are "no grounds" for Floderus being kept in detention. 

Diplomatic relations between Sweden and Iran plummeted in 2019, when Sweden detained former Iranian official Hamid Nouri.

In 2022, Nouri was sentenced to life in prison by a Stockholm court for his role in the mass execution of political dissidents in Iran in 1988. The Iranian government has demanded Nouri's release. 

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