The family of Swedish citizen and European Union employee Johan Floderus (pictured) have asked the international community to secure his release from Iranian detention after more than 500 days.

The statement — posted on Floderus’s 33rd birthday on a website dedicated to his release — said, “The family, friends, and supporters of Johan are calling for urgent international attention to secure his immediate release and safe return to Europe.”

The family expressed concern that “his needs for adequate food rations, outside walks, medical checkups, and much more are not respected”.

He has been denied communication with Sweden’s embassy in Tehran, except for a few consular visits, and from February 2023 he has been restricted to making short phone calls once a month.

“He had to go on hunger strike to be allowed to make several of these calls, which have to be in English and monitored,” the family said.

EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell said last Tuesday that Floderus’s imprisonment had been raised repeatedly with Iranian authorities.

ORIGINAL ENTRY, SEPT 5: Swedish citizen Johan Floderus, an employee of the European Union’s diplomatic service, has been imprisoned in Iran for more than 500 days.

Floderus’s detention was only revealed this week. He is being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

The EU is among the foreign and dual nationals seized by Iranian authorities and held as leverage for political and economic concessions from the US and European countries.Last month the US agreed with Iran that five American political prisoners would be freed, in return for the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian assets in South Korea and the release of Iranians imprisoned in the US for sanctions evasion.

Floderus has several positions in EU agencies after completing its civil service training program. He worked as an aide to the European Commissioner for Migration, Ylva Johansson, from 2019. Two years later, he joined the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic corps.

The EU employee had visited Iran without without incident on official business for the bloc’s development program. Inn spring 2023, he returned as a tourist with several Swedish friends. Preparing to depart from Imam Khomeini International Airport outside Tehran on April 17, he was detained.

Six sources, speaking to The New York Times, each denied that Floderus was involved in espionage.

“Deeply Worried and In Despair”

Floderus’s family said in a statement on Monday afternoon:

We are deeply worried and in despair. Johan was suddenly and without reason deprived of his liberty on a vacation trip and has been in an Iranian prison for more than 500 days.

We know that many are working hard to get him free and we are grateful for that. At the same time, every day is a huge trial, for us and above all for Johan. He must be released and allowed to come home immediately.

The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs commented in an e-mail:

A Swedish citizen — a man in his 30s — was detained in Iran in April 2022. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Sweden in Tehran are working on the case intensively.

We understand that there is interest in this matter, but in our assessment it would complicate the handling of the case if the ministry were to publicly discuss its actions.

Without acknowledge Floderus as a staff member, the European External Action Service said through spokesperson Nabila Massrali:

This case has also to be seen in the context of the growing number of arbitrary detentions involving EU citizens.

We have used and will continue to use every opportunity to raise the issue with the Iranian authorities to obtain the release of all arbitrarily detained EU citizens.