Iranian National Hamid Nouri Released from Swedish Prison After Over Four Years, Returns to Tehran

Nouri, who was convicted of war crimes over the 1988 mass execution of political prisoners, was greeted with relief and joy in Tehran, while Sweden celebrates the return of Johan Floderus and Saeed Azizi.

Nouri’s release is part of a prisoner exchange deal between Iran and Sweden, mediated by Oman.

Tehran, June 15, 2024 — Hamid Nouri, an Iranian national and former Judiciary official, has returned to Tehran after being imprisoned in Sweden for over four years on charges that Iran claims were wrongful. Nouri, who had been detained in solitary confinement since his arrest at Stockholm airport in 2019, was released and arrived in Tehran on Saturday.

Kazem Gharibabadi, the head of the Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights, welcomed Nouri upon his arrival. Addressing reporters alongside Nouri, Gharibabadi condemned the circumstances of Nouri’s arrest, labeling it as illegal and based on unfounded allegations provided by an exiled terrorist group.

Iranian authorities welcoming Hamid Nouri

“He has not committed any crime,” Gharibabadi emphasized, asserting Nouri’s innocence and criticizing the Swedish authorities for their actions.

Hamid Nouri, visibly relieved and emotional, spoke about the ordeal he endured over the past years. “My case was sensitive and highly stressful,” he admitted, while expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends who stood by him and prayed for his release.

In a poignant address to the members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), the group responsible for tipping off the Swedish authorities, Nouri stated, “I am Hamid Nouri, and now I am in Iran, and I am with my family.”

The release of Nouri comes as part of a broader diplomatic agreement between Iran and Sweden, involving the exchange of prisoners. Two Swedish nationals, including European official Johan Floderus, were released by Iran in exchange for Nouri. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson confirmed the news, stating that Floderus and Saeed Azizi were “released after being imprisoned without reason by Iran.” Kristersson expressed relief and joy, saying, “Today, they will land on Swedish soil and be reunited with their families and loved ones. Welcome home!”

An Iranian official confirmed Nouri’s release on social media, stating that he had been held “illegally” in Sweden. The freed prisoners were transferred from Tehran and Stockholm to Oman, which mediated the deal, before returning to their respective countries, as announced by Oman’s Foreign Ministry.

Nouri was arrested in Sweden in 2019 and later convicted of war crimes over the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran in 1988, under the principle of universal jurisdiction—a legal principle that some crimes are so grave that territorial restraints on prosecutions shouldn’t apply. Nouri was the first Iranian to be tried and convicted using that principle. He was given a life sentence in 2022, in what Amnesty International described at the time as “an unequivocal, and long overdue, message to the Iranian authorities that those responsible for crimes against humanity in Iran will not escape justice.”

Human rights groups have long accused Iran’s late President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month, of a role in the same killings. Amnesty International stated that Raisi was part of the “death commission” that, on Khomeini’s orders, “forcibly disappeared” and executed thousands of dissidents in prisons near Tehran in 1988.

Nouri’s release and return to Tehran are seen as a significant diplomatic victory for Iran, highlighting ongoing tensions between Tehran and Western countries over judicial and human rights issues. As Nouri reunites with his family and loved ones in Tehran, his case continues to resonate, raising questions about the broader implications for future diplomatic and legal engagements between Iran and other nations.

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