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Iran wraps up trial of Swedish EU diplomat

Swedish European Union diplomat Johan Floderus during the final hearing in his trial, at a court in Tehran (KOOSHA MAHSHID FALAHI)
Swedish European Union diplomat Johan Floderus during the final hearing in his trial, at a court in Tehran (KOOSHA MAHSHID FALAHI)

The trial of a Swedish EU diplomat wrapped up in Tehran on Sunday, with Iranian prosecutors seeking the maximum penalty for the man accused of spying for Iran's arch-foe, Israel.

The prosecutor said that 33-year-old Johan Floderus -- who works for the European Union diplomatic service -- was charged with "very extensive intelligence cooperation with the Zionist occupation regime", meaning Israel, according to the judiciary's Mizan Online website.

"Given the important nature and adverse effects of the accused's actions, I demand the maximum penalty," Mizan reported the prosecutor as saying.

Floderus was charged with "corruption on earth", which is one of Iran's most serious offences and carries a maximum penalty of death.

The Swedish national was arrested on April 17, 2022, at Tehran airport on his return to Iran from a trip with friends and has been on trial since December 2023.

No date has yet been set for the verdict.

Mizan published photos of Floderus in a prisoner's uniform accompanied by his two lawyers in a near-empty Tehran courtroom.

It said the court sessions have ended, but his lawyers have a week to submit their defence.

Sweden and the EU have repeatedly called for Floderus's immediate release, arguing that there was "absolutely no reason" for him to be held in Evin prison, where a number of government opponents are also being held.

On January 17, Sweden summoned the Iranian charge d'affaires to demand the release of citizens "arbitrarily detained" in Iran.

Relations between Sweden and Iran have deteriorated since a Swedish court in July 2022 handed down a life sentence to Iranian national Hamid Noury "for grave breaches of international humanitarian law and murder".

Noury is a former Iranian prison official. The case related to the killing of at least 5,000 prisoners across Iran 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.

Governments, human rights groups and families of foreign nationals being held in Iran have accused Tehran of engaging in "hostage diplomacy".

A number of European nationals are being held in Iran, including four from France.

Louis Arnaud, a French national, was sentenced in November to five years in prison for propaganda and endangering the security of the country.

rkh/spm/it