TEHRAN, Iran — Tehran on Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Sweden “for consultation” in protest against a sentence handed down to former Iranian prison official Hamid Noury.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran, in protest at the statement and the illegal sentence issued in Sweden against Mr. Hamid Noury… has decided to recall its ambassador to Sweden for consultations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a statement.
The verdict “is based on baseless, distorted and fabricated accusations,” he added.
On July 14, Noury received a life sentence from a Swedish court on charges of committing crimes during a 1988 purge of dissidents in Iran.
Noury, 61, was convicted of a “serious crime against international law” and “murder,” the Stockholm district court said in a statement.
The proceedings, which have been running since August 2021, have strained relations between Sweden and Iran, with Tehran dismissing the verdict as “political.”
According to the court, Noury was an assistant prosecutor in a prison near Tehran at the time of the events.
The case related to the killing of at least 5,000 prisoners across Iran that was allegedly ordered to avenge attacks carried out by exiled opposition group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) at the end of the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88.
Noury was sentenced both for his role in the killings targeting the MEK and for participating in a second wave directed at “left-wing sympathizers who were deemed to have renounced their Islamic faith,” the court said.
Throughout the trial, Noury argued that he was on leave during the period in question, and said he worked in another prison, denouncing the accusations as a plot by the MEK to discredit Iran.
Noury was arrested at a Stockholm Airport in November 2019 after Iranian dissidents in Sweden filed police complaints against him.
Tehran has repeatedly called on the Swedish government to release Noury.
Concerns have been raised about reprisals against Western prisoners held by the Islamic Republic, as two Swedish-Iranian citizens are already on death row.