Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian judiciary official

Sweden Releases Convicted Iranian Official In Prisoner Swap

Saturday, 06/15/2024

Iran has announced the imminent return of Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian prison official who was convicted of crimes against humanity and incarcerated in Sweden, as part of a prisoner exchange deal.

Kazem Gharibabadi, head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, stated on social media platform X that "Hamid Nouri, who has been in illegal detention in Sweden since 2019, is free and will return to the country in a few hours."

Nouri was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Swedish court in 2022 for crimes against humanity linked to his involvement in the mass executions of prisoners during the 1980s in Iran. He was arrested when he visited Sweden according to the principle of universal justice.

In a reciprocal move, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson confirmed the release of two Swedish citizens, Johan Floderus and Saeed Azizi, who had been detained in Iran under unclear circumstances.

The Swedish Prime Minister noted, "Today, they will land on Swedish soil and be reunited with their families and loved ones. Welcome home!" He emphasized that the Swedish government had "worked intensively" to secure their freedom.

Saeid Azizi’s lawyer, Reza Shafakhah, revealed that the prisoner exchange deal was conducted without his or the Azizi family's prior knowledge. "This exchange was done without my knowledge as a lawyer and without the client's family's knowledge,” Shafakhah stated on X on Saturday. Shafakhah further disclosed that Azizi was released from prison last night and subsequently flew to Sweden.

The Iranian clerical rulers decided to summarily execute about 5,000 political prisoners in 1988 and prosecutors proved that Nouri was involved in the mass crime as a prison Guard.

The prisoner exchange can become controversial due to the nature of Nouri's convictions, and Iran's practice of arresting foreigners to use them as de facto hostages. Critics argue that such swaps might undermine international legal standards by effectively rewarding countries that detain foreigners on dubious grounds. The return of Nouri, in particular, raises ethical questions about the implications of negotiating with governments accused of severe human rights violations.

The United States last year released around $6 billion in Iran's frozen funds to secure the release of five dual nationals arrested on trumped-up charges and held in Iran. That arrangement raised strong public criticism about rewarding hostage taking.

In recent years, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have detained numerous dual nationals and foreigners, predominantly on accusations of espionage and security threats. Human rights organizations have criticized Iran for these arrests, suggesting they are strategically used to leverage concessions from other nations.

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