Another Swedish citizen has been newly arrested in Iran in the latest sign the Iranian regime may be trying to use hostage diplomacy to pervert the course of justice in the Hamid Nouri trial.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday that an as-yet unnamed Swedish man in his 30s had been detained the previous week. The man was reportedly travelling with a group of other Swedes who had been on their way out of the country.
So far the Swedish government has released no other information about him, but added it was "seeking information and in contact with local authorities.”
Tehran has not immediately acknowledged the arrest via the judiciary, its mission to the United Nations, or state-controlled media. But the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reported on Thursday that according to an “informed source”, the arrest does relate to the ongoing case against Hamid Nouri in Sweden.
Nouri, 61, a former official at Gohardasht Prison, was arrested in Sweden on suspicion of crimes against humanity in November 2019. He was later charged with war crimes and murder in relation to his alleged role in Iran’s 1988 prison massacre, on the strength of dozens of first-hand testimonies from former prisoners who survived.
The final submissions in Nouri’s eight-month trial at Stockholm District Court were heard earlier this week, and prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. No verdict or sentence has yet been issued.
Shortly after sessions ended, Iranian state-controlled media abruptly announced that the death sentence issued against Ahmad Reza Jalali, a Swedish-Iranian doctor held in Iran on fabricated “espionage” charges since April 2016, had been upheld by the Supreme Court and he would be executed by May 21 at the latest.
Suspicion that Jalali is being used as a bargaining chip is bolstered by the fact that in February 2022, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with his Swedish counterpart at the Munich Security Conference and indicated the Iranian state wanted to see Nouri released, potentially via a prisoner swap. Iranian media coverage of the talk said Amir Abdollahian had raised “some consular issues, including Hamid Nouri”.
The Swedish government has repeatedly emphasized that its courts are independent from the government and it cannot interfere with judges’ decisions. On April 28, the day Nouri's trial adjourned, the Foreign Ministry issued a fresh statement advising citizens not to travel to Iran unless absolutely necessary because of security concerns.