The European Union has officially confirmed that Johan Floderus, a 33-year-old Swedish man working for its diplomatic service, has been detained in Iran for more than 500 days.

Floderus was arrested in Tehran in April 2022 while on holiday, and Iran later announced his arrest on espionage charges without revealing his identity. The EU and Sweden had also kept his identity confidential until a recent report by The New York Times disclosed it.

Who is Johan Floderus?

Johan Floderus is a 33-year-old official based in Brussels who works for the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic service. He had previously visited Iran on official EU business without incident but was detained while on holiday with Swedish friends.

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Floderus is currently held at Tehran’s Evin prison, along with several other foreign nationals and Iranians with dual nationality or foreign permanent residency.

The exact reasons for Floderus’s detention remain unclear, but it appears to be related to his work for the EEAS’s Afghanistan delegation. His case has raised concerns and calls for his release from both the EU and the Swedish government. Floderus’s family expressed deep worry and heartbreak over his detention.

His situation draws parallels with other individuals with dual nationality or foreign ties detained in Iran, such as Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish specialist in emergency medicine who has been held since 2016. Iran has been accused of using such detentions as bargaining chips in international negotiations or as leverage to pressure foreign governments.

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The arrest of Johan Floderus coincided with the conviction of former Iranian judiciary official Hamid Nouri in Sweden for war crimes related to the mass executions of Iranian opposition supporters in 1988. Some believe that Floderus’s detention may be linked to efforts by Iran to pressure Sweden in response to Nouri’s conviction.