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Iran rules out exchange with Sweden for alleged spy for Israel on death row

Judiciary says no connection between case of Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali and that of a former Iranian official on trial in Stockholm for war crimes

A flyer during a protest outside the Iranian embassy in Brussels for Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic detained in Tehran for nearly a year and reportedly sentenced to death for espionage, February 13, 2017. (Photo by DIRK WAEM / Belga / AFP)
A flyer during a protest outside the Iranian embassy in Brussels for Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic detained in Tehran for nearly a year and reportedly sentenced to death for espionage, February 13, 2017. (Photo by DIRK WAEM / Belga / AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s judiciary dismissed Tuesday the possibility of a prisoner swap that would see a former Iranian official on trial for war crimes in Stockholm released in exchange for a Swedish-Iranian academic on death row.

The two cases “have nothing to do with each other… as a result, there is no question of an exchange,” the spokesman for the judiciary, Zabihollah Khodayian, told a press conference in Tehran.

The remarks come as former prison official Hamid Noury, 61, is set to be sentenced in July in a trial in Sweden.

He was arrested in November 2019 and faces charges including crimes against humanity and war crimes for his role in the killing of as many as 5,000 prisoners across Iran in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war.

As his trial came to a close last week, Iranian media reported that Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali would be executed by May 21, after he was sentenced to death in 2017 over espionage for Israel.

He was found guilty of passing information about two Iranian nuclear scientists to Israel’s Mossad spy agency that led to their assassinations.

The judiciary spokesman said that Noury is “innocent and his trial is illegitimate,” while Djalali was “arrested two years prior” to the former official.

“A final verdict was issued” against the academic, and the Iranian judiciary will act accordingly, Khodayian added.

Noury’s trial has exacerbated existing tensions between Tehran and Stockholm.

Sweden’s foreign ministry announced Friday that Iranian authorities had arrested another one of its nationals. Stockholm earlier issued a warning against non-essential travel to Iran.

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