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Amnesty Slams Sweden's Prisoner Swap Releasing Iranian Criminal

June 20, 2024
2 min read
Amnesty International has strongly criticized the release of Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian prison official who was serving a life sentence in Sweden for war crimes and mass executions committed in the 1980s
Amnesty International has strongly criticized the release of Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian prison official who was serving a life sentence in Sweden for war crimes and mass executions committed in the 1980s

Amnesty International has strongly criticized the release of Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian prison official who was serving a life sentence in Sweden for war crimes and mass executions committed in the 1980s.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the human rights organization called Nouri's release through a controversial prisoner swap with Sweden "shocking" and a "stunning blow" to survivors and relatives of the victims of the 1988 prison massacres in Iran.

"The circumstances of Hamid Nouri's pardon by the Swedish government and his return to Iran confirm Amnesty International's earlier concerns that the Iranian authorities have been holding Swedish nationals hostage to swap them for Hamid Nouri," the statement reads. 

The Swedish government's decision emboldens the Iranian authorities to commit further crimes under international law, including hostage-taking, without fear of consequences. It also undermines the right to justice and reparation for survivors and victims' families and raises concerns about the commitment of Sweden's government to its obligations under international law, the NGO said.

"Amnesty International is also gravely concerned that the premature release of Hamid Nouri has weakened the impact of the landmark rulings by Swedish courts under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which had enabled the only prosecution to date, in Iran or abroad, of an Iranian official for the enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions of thousands of prisoners carried out over three decades ago," it said.

The June 15 prisoner swap saw the release of Nouri, who was jailed in Sweden for war crimes and mass executions during the 1989 state-backed killings of political prisoners in Iran.

In recent years, five individuals with Swedish citizenship have been imprisoned in Iran: Ahmadreza Jalali and Johan Floderus were accused of espionage, Kevin Gilbert and Simon Kasper were accused of drug-related offenses, and Saeed Azizi, whose charges are unknown.

Jalali, a Swedish-Iranian doctor on death row in Iran, demanded answers from the Swedish government for "leaving him behind" following an Iran-Sweden prisoner swap that released a convicted war criminal.

"Mr Prime Minister, you decided to leave me behind under a huge risk of being executed," he said in an audio clip obtained by IranWire from Iran's notorious Evin Prison.

"You did not act to deal on altering my condition and canceling the death sentence before the swap is done," he said in the voice note. 

Jalali has gone on multiple hunger strikes during his detention to protest the prison conditions. 

According to Vida Mehrannia, Jalali's wife, there were fears in 2017 that he had leukemia, but prison authorities blocked his treatment. 

In February 2022, Mehrannia reported that her husband was returned to prison just a day after surgery for acute intestinal adhesions.Western governments have repeatedly accused the Islamic Republic of taking dual and foreign nationals hostage to then use them in prisoner swaps or as a bargaining chip in international negotiations.

Many European countries have urged their nationals not to travel to Iran, warning that they face the risk of arbitrary arrest or unfair trial.

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