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Death Penalty or Life Imprisonment? Family of Swede Imprisoned in Iran Fear Imminent Verdict

February 9, 2024
3 min read
Johan Floderus is facing charges of spying for Israel and "corruption on Earth," a charge that carries the death penalty
Johan Floderus is facing charges of spying for Israel and "corruption on Earth," a charge that carries the death penalty

The family of Johan Floderus, a Swedish EU diplomat imprisoned in Iran for nearly two years, fear he could be given a sentence as early as Sunday after prosecutors sought the death penalty in his case.

Floderus worked for the European Union’s diplomatic corps before he was detained at Tehran airport on April 17, 2022, after visiting a friend working for the Swedish embassy. 

He had been in Iran several times on joint EU-Iran programs to support Afghans refugees.

The Swede is facing charges of spying for Israel and "corruption on Earth," a charge that carries the death penalty.

“We know that Johan is completely innocent and he is being used as a pawn in some political game,” his sister, Ingrid Floderus, told the Guardian newspaper. “We have not had the verdict yet, but they want the death penalty. I would not be surprised if the verdict says death penalty or at least lifetime imprisonment, that is what I am expecting. Obviously, I hope it will be different and they will say: ‘We took the wrong guy, sorry, we’re releasing you.’ But I cannot see that happening.”

In Brussels for a campaign event for her brother, she urged Sweden’s Foreign Ministry “to do what it takes, to use all the tools in the toolbox” to bring him home.

A spokesperson for the ministry told the UK newspaper it was “working very intensively” to secure Floderus’s release, which it wanted to take place immediately.

The ministry had made it “abundantly clear” that there were “no grounds whatsoever to detain Johan Floderus, let alone put him on trial,” the spokesperson said, adding that it “will not give up on them until Johan Floderus has been released and returned home.”

A spokesperson for Josep Borrell said that the EU foreign policy chief “raises the case at every occasion and contact with the Iranian authorities, since his detention, requesting his liberation.”

“Consular support is provided by the Swedish authorities, with whom we coordinate closely.”

Floderus is being held in Tehran's Evin prison.

His family worry about his physical and mental health after spending months in a cell lit up around the clock, with blankets on the floor as bedding, and after going on hunger strike multiple times to get calls home.

Ingrid Floderus expressed concern that the increasing tensions between the Islamic Republic and the United States will imperil her brother. 

“It is very frightening, the situation right now does not feel very stable,” she said.

At least four Swedish citizens are currently detained in Iran.Ingrid Floderus

Western governments and rights groups have repeatedly accused the Islamic Republic of taking dual and foreign nationals hostage for the sole purpose of using them in prisoner swaps or as a bargaining chip in international negotiations.

Relations between Stokholm and Tehran have been tense since 2019, when Sweden arrested a former Iranian official, Hamid Noury, for his involvement in the mass execution and torture of political prisoners in the 1980s. 

Noury was sentenced to life in prison in 2022, prompting the Islamic Republic to recall its envoy to Sweden in protest. A Swedish court upheld the sentence in December last year.



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