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The sister of Johan Floderus, the 33-year-old Swedish EU diplomat held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison for more than 600 days, has said her brother is being used as a “pawn” in a “political game”.


Floderas was arrested by Iranian authorities at Tehran airport in April 2022 after visiting a friend who worked for the Swedish Embassy in Iran. Since then he has been kept in the country’s Evin prison in deplorable conditions.

At the time of his arrest, Floderas worked at the Afghanistan desk of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the bloc’s diplomatic arm.

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An Iranian prosecutor is reported to have said last Sunday that he was seeking the death penalty for Floderas accused The crimes of spying for Israel and “corruption on earth” are punishable by death under Tehran’s Islamic laws.

Floderas is the latest EU citizen to be arbitrarily detained by the Iranian regime on widely disputed criminal charges, in a practice known as ‘hostage diplomacy’. While many before him were released after receiving concessions from the Tehran government, the prosecutor’s call for the death penalty has come as a devastating blow to the family. No date has been set yet for the final decision.

His sister Ingrid Floderus spoke to Euronews at an event in Brussels organized by the #FreeJohanFloderus campaign for his release.

Ingrid said, “It’s time for him to go home. He’s an innocent man.” “I don’t think anyone really believes that my brother committed the crimes he has been accused of.”

“This is about some bigger political game where my brother is being used as a pawn and that’s really something for me that I can’t accept,” she said.

“I don’t think we (Sweden) or the EU as a nation should accept this.”

Authorities in Stockholm and Brussels have said they are working tirelessly to secure his release. But Ingrid says the efforts will only be enough once her brother comes home safely.

“For me and for our family (…) as long as he’s still out there and accused of (these) terrible crimes, then maybe I don’t feel like it’s a success story so far,” she explained.

In a statement, an EU spokesperson said: “We have been very clear from the beginning: Mr Floderas is innocent. There is no basis to keep (him) in custody.”

“The High Representative consistently raises the matter at every opportunity and has contacted the Iranian authorities since his detention, requesting his release,” the spokesperson said. He said the EU is in close cooperation with Swedish authorities on the issue.

His family has described the miserable conditions in which Bheen is held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, saying he has gone on hunger strike at least seven times to be able to call his family.

Jail authorities have now warned that if he goes on hunger strike again, he will not be able to call his family again, according to his family. His cell, which he shares with three other people, has light 24 hours a day.

“I think he’s doing worse,” Ingrid said. “I can see from his test photos that he looks very different from the brother I know. He definitely looks very thin, very pale, because he basically never goes out and I know That he doesn’t get that much food.”

Floderus is a graduate of the universities of Oxford, Uppsala and SOAS London. She previously held positions in the European Commission’s department for international partnerships and in the cabinet of Swedish Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

“Johan loves his family, dogs and CrossFit and has a great interest in history, literature and culture,” reads Description From his family.

Two other EU citizens held in Iranian prisons and released in 2022, French-Irish citizen Bernard Phelan and Belgian citizen Olivier Vandecastille, were also present at the event in Brussels on Thursday.


“There is a pattern of the Iranian government using people of certain nationalities for diplomatic gains. This is called hostage diplomacy but I see very little diplomacy in it. This is basically blackmail,” VandeCastille said on the program.

Floderas’ arrest came during the Swedish trial of Hamid Nouri, an Iranian accused of mass executions of dissidents in Tehran in 1988.


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