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Sweden frees convicted Iranian war criminal in prisoner swap

By Ehren Wynder
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson accused Iran of using two Swedish citizens as "pawns in a cynical negotiation game" to secure Hamid Noury's release. File Photo by Ukrainian President Press Office/ UPI
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson accused Iran of using two Swedish citizens as "pawns in a cynical negotiation game" to secure Hamid Noury's release. File Photo by Ukrainian President Press Office/ UPI | License Photo

June 15 (UPI) -- Sweden on Saturday released an Iranian convicted of war crimes as part of a prisoner swap between the two countries.

Hamid Noury, who was arrested in Sweden in 2019 and sentenced to life for his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran, will return home in exchange for Swedish European Union official Johan Floderus and Swedizsh/Iranian dual citizen Saeed Azizi.

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Floderus was arrested in Iran in April 2022, and his detainment was kept secret until more than a year later. Iranian prosecutors charged him with espionage without offering evidence to support their claims.

Azizi has been held in Iran since November on charges of "assembly and collusion against national security."

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in a statement announcing the swap, accused Iran of using Floderus and Azizi as "pawns in a cynical negotiation game" to free Noury.

"As prime minister, I bear a special responsibility for the security of Swedish citizens," the statement read. "The government has therefore worked intensively on the issue, together with the Swedish security service, which has been negotiating with Iran."

"It has always been clear that the operation would require some difficult decisions. Now we have made those decisions. Soon, two Swedish citizens land in Sweden and are finally reunited with their relatives."

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Kazem Gharibabadi, secretary of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, in a post on X said he was pleased to announce Noury's release after he was illegally detained in Sweden.

According to Swedish prosecutors, Noury, while serving as assistant to the deputy prosecutor at Gohardasht prison in Karaj, aided in the execution of up to 5,000 male and female political prisoners in 1988 under the order of then-Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Noury was the first person to face prosecution for the massacre, which Iran has never formally recognized.

The mass execution was in response to an Iraqi-backed leftist opposition group's assault on Iran during the Iran and Iraq War.

Khomeeini then ordered the execution of all prisoners who sympathized with the group.

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