Iran’s release of Swedes was unconditional

The two Swedes released by Iranian authorities on Monday are set to return to Sweden on Tuesday afternoon. Iran has not received anything in return for the release of Jari Hjortmar and Stefan Johansson, according to Swedish authorities.

“It feels like the most important thing now is that I will meet my family in four or five hours,” Johansson told news agency TT .

After just over a year in captivity, the two men sat at a café at Istanbul’s international airport on Tuesday morning in the company of Urban Ahlin, Social Democratic vice chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee.

“Without him we wouldn’t be sitting here now,” said Johansson.

The two men were arrested in March 2006 for taking pictures of military installations on Iran’s southern island of Qeshm and sentenced to three years in prison.

“But there were absolutely no signs there, or anything else to suggest that it was forbidden to take photographs,” said Johansson.

The men say they were well treated and Johansson was expressed particular gratitude to the Iranian lawyer hired by the Swedish embassy on their behalf.

“He has been everywhere and really fought for us,” said Johansson just before boarding his flight to Arlanda airport. There he will be reunited with his wife Ann and their children Maximilian, 8, and William, 3.

Stefan Johansson described as “totally unreal” the experience of hearing that they were to be given three-year prison sentences.

“The most difficult thing to begin with was that more or less nobody spoke English. But we were treated well in prison. Nobody threatened us,” he said.

Urban Ahlin answered in the negative when asked whether Sweden had given the Iranians anything in return for the release,

“Of course there were some things they wanted but they simply haven’t been given them,” he said.