Swedish citizen arrested in Iran

Iranian authorities have detained a Swedish man, Stockholm said Friday, threatening to strain already tense ties between the countries.

The flag of Iran waves in front of the the International Center building in Vienna, Austria.
The flag of Iran waves in front of the the International Center building in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Florian Schroetter/TT

Sweden’s foreign ministry confirmed to AFP that a Swedish man in his 30s “has recently been detained”.

“The embassy in Tehran is seeking further information in the matter and is in contact with local authorities,” it said in an email, providing no further details.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported the man was on holiday together with other Swedes when he was detained.

Relations between Sweden and Iran are already tense over a trial in Stockholm against an Iranian ex-prison official accused of war crimes over his alleged role in a 1988 purge of dissidents.

READ ALSO: Swedish court to give verdict in Iranian war crimes trial in July

Hamid Noury, 61, was arrested at a Stockholm airport in November 2019 after Iranian dissidents in Sweden filed police complaints against him.

The trial ended on Wednesday with the court due to issue a verdict in July. Earlier this week, Iran’s foreign ministry demanded Noury’s release, saying it considered his arrest and trial “illegal”.

Meanwhile, the Iranian news agency Isna reported this week that Iran plans to execute Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali, who was sentenced to death in 2017 for spying for Israel, before May 21.

The Swedish foreign ministry last week advised its nationals against non-essential travel to Iran.

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Iran says Swede arrested for alleged espionage

Iran said on Saturday it had arrested a Swedish national on allegations of espionage, without providing details on the suspect's identity nor the date of their detention.

Iran says Swede arrested for alleged espionage

The announcement comes amid diplomatic tensions between Tehran and Stockholm, after a Swedish court sentenced a former Iranian prison official to life for war crimes during mass executions in the Islamic republic in 1988.

Iran’s intelligence ministry said it had “identified and arrested a national of the Kingdom of Sweden suspected of espionage”.

In early May, the Swedish foreign ministry said a Swede in his thirties had been arrested in Iran.

It was not immediately clear if the announcement on Saturday refers to that man or another Swede.

“In all the previous trips, the suspect… communicated with a number of European and non-European suspects who were under surveillance in Iran,” the statement read.

“The suspect in question re-entered the country a few months ago after the arrest of another European spy” to collect information, it alleged, adding the suspect had been taken into custody while leaving Iran.

The intelligence ministry said the suspect had visited Israel, the Islamic republic’s arch-enemy, before going to Iran.

It also alleged Sweden had “supported several proxy spies” for Israel, including Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian academic who has been sentenced to death in the Islamic republic.

Djalali’s sentence was issued in 2017 after he was convicted of passing information about two Iranian nuclear scientists to Israel’s Mossad spy agency that led to their assassinations.

He was granted Swedish citizenship the following year.

His case was followed by the trial in Stockholm of Hamid Noury, a former official in Iran’s judiciary accused of war crimes over the killing of prisoners in Iran during the 1980s.

Noury received a life sentence from a Swedish court on July 14th. Iran dismissed the verdict as “political” and has called for his release.

Relations between to the two countries have been strained over the case, with Tehran recalling its ambassador to Sweden for consultations a week later.