According to several media reports, Iran wants to repatriate Hamid Noury, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Swedish district court for his role in the mass execution of imprisoned political prisoners in 1988.
In exchange for Noury’s return to Iran, the regime will release Swedish EU official Johan Floderus and Swedish-Iranian researcher Ahmadreza Dhalali, both of whom are imprisoned for alleged espionage and face execution.
According to Swedish news agency TT, there are “growing indications” that the Iranian leadership wants Noury released through a prisoner swap with the two Swedes, and it is believed that EU official Floderus was arrested during a vacation trip with the specific purpose of later being exchanged for Noury. Sweden has never conducted a prisoner exchange in modern times, but there are no legal obstacles to doing so.
Hamid Noury was arrested at Arlanda Airport in 2019 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his alleged “central role” in the mass executions of thousands of imprisoned Iranian dissidents who were accused of having links to the People’s Mujahedin Organization, which was fighting the Iranian regime at the time. On Tuesday afternoon, the Court of Appeals will deliver its verdict, and all indications are that the sentences will be upheld.
In the meantime, Iran has imprisoned two Swedish citizens. Johan Floderus, a Swedish EU official who has been accused of espionage since his arrest during a holiday trip last year and faces the death penalty, and Ahmadreza Djalali, a doctor and researcher who was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to death for espionage and “corruption on earth”.
– It is clear that Iran is linking the fate of Hamid Noury to these two imprisoned Swedish citizens, said Maja Åberg, an Amnesty International expert.
It should be noted that just last summer Iran carried out a prisoner exchange with Belgium, releasing four Belgian citizens in exchange for an Iranian diplomat convicted of terrorism-related crimes.
According to international law professor Pål Wrange, there are now two ways for the Swedish government to carry out a prisoner exchange. Either the government decides to pardon – and Noury is released in Sweden. Or it decides to let him serve his sentence in Iran, after which he will be handed over to the Iranian authorities and in all likelihood become a free man.
– On the one hand, this is a person who has been convicted of very serious crimes, and there are many Iranians in Sweden who have an interest in him serving his sentence, including relatives of people killed in the massacres. On the other side of the scale are the lives of two seemingly innocent people, he says.
– The government could pardon Noury. But I don’t think it will happen, it’s politically impossible, Mark Klamberg, an international law professor, told AFP in an interview.