Johan Floderus, detained by Iran since April 2022 as leverage in negotiations, in an advertisement encouraging young Swedes to work in European Union agencies


Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, the Swedish-Iranian medical research put on death row by Iran’s regime, has demanded answers from the Swedish Government over last week’s prisoner exchange.

Djalili said in an audio message:

Mr. Prime Minister, you decided to leave me behind under a huge risk of being executed.

You did not act to deal on altering my condition and cancelling the death sentence before the swap was done.

The expert in disaster medicine was arrested in 2016 and condemned to death in 2017. He said of the freeing of fellow Swedes Johan Floderus and Saeed Azizi, swapped for Iranian judiciary official and convicted war criminal Hamid Nouri:

I am happy that these two people were released. But it is obviously a discriminative action and behavior that you took two Swedes and left another one here.

You left me here helpless.

He asked Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, “Why not me? after 3,000 days. You certainly remember two years ago when the Iranian government announced a two-week deadline for executing me just because of political challenges between the two countries and I was used as a leverage.”

ORIGINAL ENTRY, JUNE 15: Iran’s regime has obtained Sweden’s release of a convicted war criminal in return for freedom for two Swedish political prisoners held in Tehran.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Johan Floderus, a European Union diplomat seized in April 2022, and Swedish-Iranian national Saeed Azizi “are now on a plane home to Sweden and will soon be reunited with their families”.

To free the men, Sweden released Hamid Nouri, a high-ranking Iranian official. He was sentenced to life in a Swedish court for war crimes, involving the executions of at least 5,000 detainees in 1988 in Iran.

Oman brokered the exchange.

Nouri, an official in Iran’s judiciary, was arrested at a Stockholm airport in 2019 after Iranian dissidents in Sweden filed police complaints against him. The proceedings were the first against an Iranian official over the mass executions — possibly setting a precedent for those, like Iran’s future President Ebrahim Raisi, who were also part of the process.

The Iranian official was found guilty of murder and a “serious crime against international law” after 92 sessions of a trial which lasted almost a year. The hearings were maintained in defiance of threats by Iranian officials of retaliation, including the possible execution of imprisoned Swedish-Iranian medical researcher Ahmadreza Djalali.

See also Sweden Convicts Iranian Official Over Role in Mass Executions in 1988

Nouri said at his trial that he was on leave and working at a prison where there were no killings. However, some of the dozens of witnesses — many of them former political prisoners or families of slain detainees — testified that he was present at the executions.

The Swedish security service said two weeks ago that the Iranian regime is using criminal networks within Sweden to carry out violent acts against other states including Israel and Iranian dissident groups and individuals.

The Political Prisoners

The detention of Floderus, an employee of the European Union’s diplomatic service, was not revealed until September 2023 when he had been imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison for more than 500 days.

The EU employee had visited Iran without without incident on official business for the bloc’s development program. But in spring 2023, he was held in Imam Khomeini International Airport as he was returning from vacation with several Swedish friends.

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

The diplomat was denied communication with Sweden’s embassy in Tehran, except for a few consular visits, and restricted to making short phone calls once a month. He was kept in a cell with no bed under 24-hour lighting.

Referring to the “levels of hell” endured by Floderus, his family expressed concern that “his needs for adequate food rations, outside walks, medical checkups, and much more are not respected”.

See also UPDATES: “Levels of Hell” — The Swedish Citizen and EU Employee Detained in Iran for 600+ Days

Azizi, in his 60s, was detained at the end of November. The Swedish Foreign Ministry, without identifying him, said he was arrested “without a clear reason” and called for his release.

Swedish-Iranian dual national Djalali, a specialist in disaster medicine, is still imprisoned in Iran after 8 years and 2 months.