Swedish EU employee Johan Floderus attends a court session in Tehran, Iran, December 10, 2023.

Iran Insists Detained EU Diplomat Guilty Of Spying For Israel

Tuesday, 12/12/2023
Maryam Sinaiee

British Iranian journalist and political analyst

Iran's foreign ministry says there is “sufficient evidence” for the charge of espionage brought against a Swedish EU diplomat whose trial began in Tehran Saturday.

Iran's judiciary on Sunday accused Johan Niels Floderus, a 33-year-old Swedish citizen and EU diplomat of extensive intelligence collaboration with Israel against the Islamic Republic.

The foreign ministry spokesman Naser Kanaani on Monday backed the hardliner Judiciary that has accused other foreigners in the past for similar crimes. Kanaani insisted that charges and crimes committed by Floderus have been clearly defined by the judiciary and sufficient evidence has been provided.

However, similar trials against foreigners in the past were held behind closed doors, without due process of law.

Judicial process will be followed in Floderus’ case, Kanaani said, implying that there could be no intervention by the foreign ministry or other authorities to secure his release from prison. “The judiciary will perform its duties as an independent authority,” he said.

Swedish EU employee Johan Floderus attends a court session in Tehran, Iran, December 10, 2023.

Kanaani added that the Swedish government has been informed of the details of the case, but there is no evidence of that.

“The defendant has been active against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of information collection for the benefit of the Zionist regime in the form of subversive projects conducted by well-known American, Israeli and European institutions active in this area,” a statement by the prosecutor read at the first session of Floderus’ trial Sunday alleged.

The prosecutor has demanded sentencing Floderus in accordance with article 286 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code. This article stipulates that anyone found guilty of extensive crimes against the Islamic Republic’s domestic or international security leading to “serious disruption in public order and security in the country” should be sentenced to death for “corruption on earth”.

"Johan Floderus has been arbitrarily detained and every accusation and charge is false," a spokesperson for Sweden's foreign ministry said in an emailed comment to Reuters on Sunday.

Top EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also urged Iran on Sunday to free Floderus immediately. "I persistently raise the case at every occasion and contact with the Iranian authorities, since his detention, requesting his liberation," he said.

"We are seeking clarification and more information from them, in closest coordination with the Swedish authorities who bear the consular responsibility," he added.

Many believe that the Swedish EU diplomat whose family and friends say was on holiday in Iran is a victim of the Islamic Republic’s ‘hostage policy’.

The Islamic Republic has widely been accused of routinely arresting foreigners and dual citizens to use them as bargaining chips against Western countries and can demand the release of its own nationals held in Sweden such as Hamid Nouri, a former deputy prosecutor, in return for freeing Floderus, a citizen of Sweden and the European Union in danger of execution.

Nouri is serving a life sentence in Sweden for human rights violations as a prison official in 1980s when thousands of detainees were hanged in Iranian prisons after summary trials that sometimes lasted only minutes.

Iran's judiciary recently called on Swedish authorities to ensure “fair and appropriate procedures” regarding Nouri’s appeal which started in January. The verdict of the appeals court is scheduled to be announced on December 19.

The unfreezing of $6b by the United States a few months ago was widely interpreted as the cost of freeing five American-Iranian hostages that Iran had held for several years.

Floderus, who previously worked on the Afghanistan desk of the EU’s external services department, was detained on April 17, 2022, at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while waiting to depart Iran.

He was covertly detained for over 500 days before a report by The New York Times in September brought his circumstances to public attention. . 

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