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Sweden has freed an Iranian convicted of war crimes in a prisoner swap

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Sweden has freed an Iranian convicted of war crimes in a prisoner swap

Sweden has freed an Iranian convicted of war crimes in a prisoner swap

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  • Hamid Noury, an Iranian convicted of war crimes, has been released from Sweden.
  • Noury was arrested in 2019 and convicted of involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners.
  • Iran’s High Council for Human Rights secretary, Kazem Gharibabadi, confirmed Noury’s release on X.
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As part of a prisoner swap between the two countries, Sweden has freed Hamid Noury, an Iranian convicted of war crimes, who was serving a life sentence. Noury has returned to Tehran, while Johan Floderus, a Swedish diplomat and dual national, arrived back in Stockholm late on Saturday evening along with Saeed Azizi.

In 2019, Sweden arrested Mr. Noury and convicted him of involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran more than three decades ago.

Two years ago, Iran detained Mr. Floderus on charges of spying, while last November, they arrested Mr. Azizi and sentenced him to five years in prison.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson announced the swap, stating that Iran had used Mr. Floderus and Mr. Azizi as pawns in a cynical negotiation game to secure the release of Iranian citizen Hamid Noury from prison in Sweden. Relations between Sweden and Iran have deteriorated since Mr. Noury’s conviction.

He added: “He is convicted of serious crimes committed in Iran in the 1980s.”

On Saturday, Kazem Gharibabadi, secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, posted on X (formerly Twitter), announcing that Sweden had released Mr. Noury, whom Iran claimed was “illegally detained.”

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According to Swedish prosecutors, Mr. Noury faced accusations of committing war crimes and murder in 1988 while serving as assistant to the deputy prosecutor at Gohardasht prison in Karaj. He became the first person prosecuted for participating in the execution of thousands of prisoners, an act that Iran’s establishment has never formally acknowledged.

In 1988, during the Iran-Iraq War, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iraqi-backed leftist opposition group, attacked Iran. Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an order to execute all prisoners who were loyal to or sympathized with the group.

Human rights groups estimate that between 2,800 and 5,000 women and men were executed at sites, including Gohardasht prison, between July and September 1988. Mr. Noury, 63, was arrested upon arrival at Stockholm airport on a flight from Iran. He denied the charges against him, but the court found him guilty of “grave breaches of international humanitarian law and murder.”

Countries can prosecute individuals for serious crimes against international law that occurred elsewhere under the principle of universal jurisdiction. This encompasses war crimes, genocide, torture, and crimes against humanity.

After his arrest in Iran in 2022 on accusations of espionage while on holiday, Mr. Floderus, 33, faced the death penalty.

Authorities convicted Mr. Azizi, an Iranian-Swedish national in his early 60s, of “assembly and collusion against national security.”

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Oman facilitated the negotiation of the prisoner swap and played a crucial role in securing the release of another European national last week. French banker Louis Arnaud was freed after two years in detention in Iran.

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