Thursday , 22 February 2024

EU urges Iran to release Swedish diplomat after trial begins

alarabiya – The EU’s top foreign policy chief on Sunday renewed calls on Iran to free a Swedish EU diplomat after his trial began in Tehran, adding Brussels was chasing more details.

Johan Floderus, 33, was arrested on April 17, 2022, at Tehran airport as he was returning home from a trip with friends.

The Swede, who works for the European Union diplomatic service, is being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Swedish foreign minister Tobias Billstrom said on Saturday that the trial had begun.

“The EU continues to call for Johan Floderus to be freed immediately,” the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in a statement.

“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.

Iran’s judiciary said in September Floderus had “committed crimes” in the country.

But Borrell said the diplomat was “innocent”, adding: “There are absolutely no grounds for keeping Johan Floderus in detention.”

Several governments, human rights groups and families of foreign passport holders being held by Iran say it is pursuing a tactic of “hostage diplomacy” in efforts to extract concessions from other countries.

The news of the trial came after a lawyer for the family of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian Kurdish woman who died in custody last year, said they were banned from travelling to France to collect a top rights prize awarded posthumously.

Amini’s parents and brother were blocked from boarding a flight that was to take them to France to collect the prize during a European Parliament ceremony next week, the lawyer told AFP on Saturday.