Iran charges a Swedish national with spying for Israel

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Sunday held the first hearing for a Swedish citizen who was detained last year on charges of spying for Israel, media reported.

A report by Mizanonline.ir news website, which is affiliated with the country’s judiciary, said that the prosecutor accused the man who was identified as Johan Floderus of “having links with Israeli elements" and gathering information for Israel in the framework of projects through American, Israeli and European institutes that were active against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The prosecutor said Floderus had traveled to Israel, worked with Swedish intelligence and transferred money to Iran for projects aimed to toppling its government. He asked the judge to prosecute Floderus based on articles of Iranian law that carry penalties from six months to capital punishment.

Judge Iman Afshari said a date for the next session will be decided later.

The report also published images of Floderus and his lawyers in the courtroom. The report did not say anything about consular access of Swedish diplomats in the court.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry said in September that its national in his 30s was detained in Iran in April 2022. Subsequent media reports identified him as a Swede who had been working for the European Union’s diplomatic corps.

Last year, Iran’s intelligence ministry said its agents had arrested a Swedish citizen for spying. It didn’t not identify the man but said he was arrested before leaving Iran after several visits to the country.

The Iranians said the man had been in touch with several European and non-European suspects in Iran, and had visited Israel, Iran’s foe, before visiting Iran. The statement accused Sweden of proxy-spying for Israel.

Relations between Stockholm and Tehran have been tense in recent years.

Iran recalled its ambassador from Sweden last year after a Swedish court convicted Iranian citizen Hamid Noury of war crimes and murder during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and sentenced him to life in prison.

In May, Iran executed an Iranian-Swedish dual national, Farajollah Cha’ab, also known as Habib Asyoud, accused of masterminding a 2018 attack on a military parade that killed at least 25 people. He was one of several enemies of Tehran seized abroad in recent years amid tensions with the West.