Family of EU diplomat held captive by Iran pleads for his immediate release

As Johan Floderus marks his 33rd birthday in custody, his relatives in Sweden say ‘he should be with us celebrating’

An image of Swedish national Johan Floderus during a video call from Iranian prison on August 7, 2023, released by his family in September. (Courtesy)
An image of Swedish national Johan Floderus during a video call from Iranian prison on August 7, 2023, released by his family in September. (Courtesy)

STOCKHOLM — The family of a Swedish EU diplomat held captive in Iran for more than 500 days called Sunday for his immediate release, as he marked his birthday in a Tehran prison.

“Today on Johan’s 33rd birthday, he should be with us celebrating… He should be released immediately and allowed to travel home,” the family of Johan Floderus wrote in a statement, releasing a picture of him taken during the only video call with his family he has been granted.

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

The Swede, who had been working in Brussels for the EU delegation to Afghanistan as a program officer since September 2021, is being held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Iran announced in July last year that it had arrested a man on suspicion of espionage, two weeks after an Iranian citizen received a life jail term in Sweden for his role in the Iranian regime’s 1988 mass executions of thousands of opponents.

A Stockholm court found former Iranian prison chief Hamid Noury guilty of “aggravated crimes against international law” and “murder.”

Several capitals have accused Iran of practicing “hostage diplomacy” — arresting Western nationals to obtain concessions such as the release of detained Iranians.

Floderus “has become yet another victim of Iran’s alarming pattern of taking foreign nationals hostage for political purposes,” his family said.

“The conditions under which Johan is held in prison, with 24-hour cell light, are unacceptable and in violation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners,” his family said.

“His needs for adequate food rations, outside walks, medical checkups and much more are not respected,” they said, adding that he spent “over 300 days in solitary confinement.”

Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Floderus had been granted “very few” consular visits, the most recent six months ago, and has been allowed on average one short phone call a month since February 2023.

“He had to go on hunger strike to be allowed to make several of these calls, which have to be in English and monitored. They could be forcibly ended if subjects are ‘wrong.'”

The family said the one video call was granted on August 7 this year.

“In a desperate plea during the video call, Johan asked for more to be done in hope of his return home.”

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