Top EU diplomat secretly detained in Iran for 500 days during nuclear talks

An EU diplomat and Swedish citizen has been secretly detained in Iran for almost 500 days as part of Iran’s hostage diplomacy.

Johan Floderus, 33, a member of the European Union’s diplomatic corps, was detained at Tehran airport in April 2022 as he prepared to depart the country after what was characterised as a holiday with friends.

The Iranian government made a statement in July 2022, reporting the incarceration of a Swedish national on espionage accusations but providing no further details.

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to comment on the issue, citing the need for confidentiality.

The New York Times questioned six people with intimate knowledge of the situation, all of whom stated unequivocally that Floderus was not involved in any espionage activity.

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Mr Floderus has been arbitrarily held at a time when EU diplomats were heavily engaged in talks around a nuclear agreement between Iran and the US.

Two high-ranking EU foreign policy representatives visited Tehran in mid-2022, keeping his confinement hidden from the broader public and European organisations.

It is not clear how much influence the diplomat’s incarceration had over the mediation between the countries.

Neither the Swedish authorities nor the European Union have confirmed the detainee’s identity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a recent email: “The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Sweden in Tehran are working very intensively on the case and are maintaining close contact with the EU.

“The Swedish citizen has been arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and should therefore be released immediately.

“This has been conveyed to the Iranian authorities, to avoid complicating our efforts and for reasons of secrecy, we cannot go into any more detail at present.”

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