Iran: Swedish EU diplomat accused of plotting with Israel

Johan Floderus, a Swedish European Union (EU) diplomat detained in Iran for almost two years, was accused by a Tehran court on Sunday, December 10, of cooperating with Israel “at the expense of the security” of the Islamic Republic

Iran: Swedish EU diplomat accused of plotting with Israel

Johan Floderus, a Swedish European Union (EU) diplomat detained in Iran for almost two years, was accused by a Tehran court on Sunday, December 10, of cooperating with Israel “at the expense of the security” of the Islamic Republic.

Dressed in the pale blue uniform of prisoners and handcuffed, the defendant, aged 33, appeared for the first time since his arrest, in April 2022, in photos released on Sunday by the Judicial Authority.

His closed-door trial opened on Saturday before Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran with the reading of the charges which had not until now been revealed. Johan Floderus, who was surrounded by his lawyers and a translator, is on trial for "corruption on earth", one of the most serious charges in the country, punishable by death, and participation in " acts undermining the security of Iran, through extensive intelligence cooperation with the Zionist regime,” according to Judicial Authority agency Mizan Online.

He is “innocent” and “there is absolutely no reason to keep him in detention”, reacted the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, on Sunday, once again calling for his “immediate release”. The same request was made by Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström, who announced the start of the trial on Saturday. “There is no basis to keep Johan Floderus in detention, let alone bring him to justice,” he said.

“Intelligence Gathering”

The Swede, who works for the EU diplomatic service, was arrested on April 17, 2022 at Tehran airport, as he was preparing to return home after a trip with friends. He has since been detained in Evin prison in Tehran, where many Iranian opponents are incarcerated.

According to the prosecutor's representative, “the accused was active against the Islamic Republic in the field of intelligence collection for the benefit of the Zionist regime, in the form of projects [aimed at] overthrowing the Islamic Republic [led by] American, Israeli and European institutions known to be active” against Iran. “Among his other acts are traveling to occupied Palestine, communicating with agents” of Israel and “collecting intelligence on the programs of the Islamic Republic, which have nothing to do with the professional field of the accused ", he added. After the indictment was read, the trial was adjourned sine die.

Many states and human rights movements or families of foreign detainees accuse Tehran of practicing “hostage diplomacy” to obtain concessions. The Islamic Republic is insistently demanding the release of Hamid Nouri, an Iranian sentenced to life in prison in Sweden for his role in mass executions of thousands of opponents in 1988. The Swedish appeals court must rule on his case on December 19.

Four French people detained in Iran

Relations between Tehran and Stockholm further deteriorated in May after the execution of Iranian-Swedish dissident Habib Chaab, convicted of “corruption on earth” after his kidnapping in Turkey, in October 2020. Another Iranian-Swede, the academic Ahmadreza Djalali, arrested in Iran in 2016 and sentenced to death on similar charges, remains under threat of execution.

Several other Europeans are detained in Iran, including four French people. One of them, Louis Arnaud, was sentenced in November to five years in prison for propaganda and endangering state security. Paris deemed his conviction “unacceptable”.

The start of Mr. Floderus' trial coincides with the presentation, on Sunday in Oslo, of the Nobel Peace Prize to Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, imprisoned in her country, while the Sakharov Prize for human rights is to be presented to Parliament on Tuesday European, in Strasbourg, posthumously to Mahsa Amini, whose death provoked a vast protest movement in Iran at the end of last year.