Middle East

Swedish man detained in Iran as relations sour over war crimes trial

A Swedish man has been detained in Iran, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said on Friday, just days after it advised against unnecessary travel to Iran, citing a deteriorating security situation, Reuters reports.

Relations between Sweden and Iran are tense after Sweden detained and put on trial a former Iranian official on charges of war crimes for the mass execution and torture of political prisoners at an Iranian prison in the 1980s.  The trial, condemned by Iran, ended on Wednesday and the verdict is due in July.

“We are aware that a Swedish citizen, a man in his 30s, has recently been detained in Iran. The embassy in Tehran is seeking information on the case and is in contact with local authorities,” the Swedish Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement, offering no further details.

According to Swedish daily, Aftonbladet, citing unnamed sources, the man is a tourist travelling with other Swedes and was detained after a few days vacation.

There was no report of any such arrest on Iran’s media and Iranian officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday, which is the weekend in the country.

READ: Swedish-Iranian national Djalali to be executed by May 21 for spying

Sweden amended its travel advice for Iran on 28 April, as the trial of Hamid Noury, 61, was drawing to a close. Noury is accused of having played a leading role in the executions of political prisoners on government orders at the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, in 1988. He has denied the charges.

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swedish envoy to protest “the baseless and fabricated accusations that the Swedish prosecutor made against Iran during Noury’s court case,” Iranian media reported.

Two days later, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said a Swedish-Iranian national sentenced to death in Iran on charges of spying for Israel will be executed by 21 May. Ahmadreza Djalali, a disaster medicine doctor and researcher, was arrested in 2016 while on an academic visit to Iran.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Rights activists have accused Iran of using them as bargaining chips. Iran, which does not recognise dual nationality, denies taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage.

However, Iran has exchanged several jailed foreigners and dual nationals with Iranians detained abroad.

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