Iran on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of a Swedish citizen who works for the European Union, saying his case will soon be sent to court.
“The investigation is being finalized and the case will be sent to the competent court in the days ahead with the final decision of the prosecutor’s office,” Iran’s judiciary spokesperson Massoud Setayeshi said.
Setayeshi did not mention the Swedish citizen by name, but said he was charged with committing crimes on Iranian territory.
Last week, the New York Times broke news that Swedish national and EU worker Johan Floderus had been detained in prison in Iran for more than 500 days. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, confirmed Floderus’ arrest, saying he’s been working “relentlessly” to free him and will continue to push for his release.
Floderus, who works for the European External Action Service, was reportedly arrested on espionage charges in April 2022, while on a private trip to Iran.
The arrest news sparked blowback from EU members, who criticized the decision to keep his detention a secret for so long. Floderus’ family has since launched a campaign to support him and denounced the inhumane conditions he is enduring at Iran’s notorious Evin prison — including scarce contact with his family, prolonged solitary confinement and rare phone calls.
Floderus’ arrest is seen as the latest in a growing pattern of “hostage diplomacy” that Iran utilizes in a bid to obtain concessions from the West. Earlier this year, Belgian humanitarian worker Olivier Vandecasteele was released after spending more than a year in Iranian detention, in exchange for convicted terrorist Assadollah Assadi, who had been imprisoned in Belgium.
Iran reportedly attempted to broker a prisoner exchange with Sweden for the imprisoned EU official. In the deal — which was contested by the Swedish Court of Appeal — Iran wanted detained Iranian official Hamid Nouri in exchange for Floderus.
In July 2022, Nouri was sentenced to life in prison in Sweden for his involvement in mass killings of Iranian political prisoners.