Iran kicks out Swedish diplomat

Iran kicks out Swedish diplomat
Iran has expelled a Swedish diplomat from his post in Tehran, marking another move in a quiet diplomatic dispute that has been brewing for weeks.

The diplomat took up what was to be a two-year posting in September, only to be hastily forced out of Iran at the end of February.

“He was asked to leave the country. I have no information as to why,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gufran Al-Nadaf.

Earlier in the year, Sweden quietly ejected an Iranian diplomat, setting the stage for a response from Iran.

“A likely explanation is that it was related to spying on refugees and the expulsion of the Swedish diplomat is likely retaliation from the Iranian side,” Said Mahmoudi, a human rights and Iran expert based at Stockholm University, told the newspaper Expressen.

Recently, Sweden has not shied away from shining a light on Iran for its record on human rights and treatment of women.

“Developments in Iran continue to give cause for concern. Human rights are still being violated and freedom of expression is still being restricted,” said Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in his recent foreign policy presentation to the Riksdag.

In addition, Iranian feminist Parvin Ardalan was awared the Olof Palme Prize in early February for her efforts to promote women’s rights.

She was to receive her award in Stockholm on Thursday, but was barred from leaving Iran.

But the Foreign Ministry’s Al-Nadaf maintained there was no connection between Ardalan’s travel ban and the ejected diplomats.

“They are two separate matters. They have nothing to do with one another,” she said.