Iran exchanges prisoners with Sweden, eight Europeans remain captive

Iran and Sweden announced a prisoner swap on Saturday, with the release of a Swedish European Union diplomat held by Tehran and a senior Iranian official imprisoned in Sweden.

The freed prisoners were on their way back to their countries on Saturday afternoon, via the Sultanate of Oman, which has been brokering negotiations between Stockholm and Tehran, according to the Omani news agency.

Iran said Hamid Noury, a senior prison official, had been released and would be back in his country by late afternoon. “Hamid Noury, illegally detained in Sweden since 2019, is free and will return in a few hours,” said the head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, Kazem Gharibabadi, in a message posted on the social network X. The 63-year-old Iranian was arrested in 2019 in Stockholm and then sentenced to life in the Scandinavian country for his role in the mass executions of opponents ordered by Tehran in 1988.

A diplomat released

For its part, Sweden announced the releases of Johan Floderus, an EU diplomat detained in Iran since April 2022, accused of espionage and at risk of being sentenced to death, and Saeed Azizi, arrested in November 2023. They are on their way back “and will finally be reunited with their loved ones,” welcomed Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

The prisoner issue has strained relations between Sweden and Iran in recent years, with Iran demanding the release of Hamid Noury ​​and criticizing a biased trial. The prisoner swap comes three days after the release of Frenchman Louis Arnaud, who had been held in Iran since September 2022.

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