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Two Swedish citizens released by Iran reunited with families in Stockholm

Johan Floderus reunites with his family at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, June 15, 2024
Johan Floderus reunites with his family at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, June 15, 2024 Copyright Tom Samuelsson/AP
Copyright Tom Samuelsson/AP
By Euronews with AP
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European Union diplomat Johan Floderus and another man, Saeed Azizi, were released by Iran in exchange for Iranian national Hamid Nouri who was convicted in Stockholm of committing war crimes over his part in 1988 mass executions in the Islamic Republic.

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Two Swedish citizens who were released in a prisoner swap with Iran have been reunited with their families after they landed in Stockholm. 

European Union diplomat Johan Floderus and another man, Saeed Azizi, were released by Iran in exchange for an Iranian national convicted in Stockholm of committing war crimes over his part in 1988 mass executions in the Islamic Republic.

Floderus and Azizi were met at the airport by Sweden's prime minister Ulf Kristersson and foreign minister Tobias Billström.

Kristersson posted on X that the two men had been reunited with their families, ending his post with 'Welcome home to Sweden!'

The prisoner exchange happened on Saturday and saw Sweden release Hamid Nouri, who was convicted of war crimes over mass executions in 1988.

In 2022, the Stockholm District Court sentenced Nouri to life in prison over his role in the executions. It identified him as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor at the Gohardasht prison outside the Iranian city of Karaj.

The 1988 mass executions came at the end of Iran’s long war with Iraq. After Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a United Nations-brokered cease-fire, members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, heavily armed by Saddam Hussein, stormed across the Iranian border in a surprise attack.

International rights groups estimate that as many as 5,000 people were executed. Iran has never fully acknowledged the executions, apparently carried out on Khomeini’s orders.

The family of Johan Floderus, who worked for the European External Action Service, said he was arrested in April 2022 at Tehran airport while returning from a holiday with friends.

Saeed Azizi, left, and Johan Floderus stand together at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, Sweden on Saturday, June 15, 2024
Saeed Azizi, left, and Johan Floderus stand together at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, Sweden on Saturday, June 15, 2024Tom Samuelsson/AP

His detention represented yet another case of Tehran using foreigners or those with dual nationalities as pawns in negotiations with the West.

Azizi's case was not as prominent as Floderus'. In February, the group Human Rights Activists in Iran reported that the dual Iranian-Swedish national had been sentenced to five years in prison by Tehran's Revolutionary Court on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security.” The group said Azizi has cancer.

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