Arrest comes weeks after former Iranian official was sentenced to life in Sweden
Amid growing bilateral tensions, Iran on Saturday announced the arrest of an unidentified Swedish national on espionage charges.
The suspect had been under surveillance during previous multiple visits to Iran, which led to investigations and arrest owing to his “suspicious behavior and contacts” and visits to cities not frequented by tourists, said an Intelligence Ministry statement.
The person had visited Iran recently after the arrest of “another European spy” to “obtain information” on the identity of that person, it added.
The arrest comes after dozens of similar arrests of Europeans and dual nationals by Iran in recent months on various security-related charges.
It is unclear whether the case is related to what the Swedish Foreign Ministry said in May about a Swedish national detained in Iran, just days after issuing a travel advisory urging its citizens not to visit the country.
Tensions between Tehran and Stockholm have risen since a former Iranian judicial official was detained and put on trial in Sweden over alleged war crimes and mass executions of Iranian dissidents in the late 1980s.
After his November 2019 arrest in Sweden, Hamid Nouri, 61, was sentenced to life on July 14 for “serious crime against international law” and “murder,” alluding to executions of members of the Mujahideen e Khalq (MEK) in 1988.
Iran accuses the MEK, now based in Albania, of carrying out a series of terrorist attacks in the country in the 1980s.
Iran slammed the verdict, calling it “politically motivated.” In a sign of growing strained ties, Iran’s Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassador from Sweden last week to protest the “illegal verdict.”
In a separate statement, Iran’s top human rights official, Kazem Gharibabadi, said the country will “not sit idly by,” adding that it has “several options on the table” to respond to Sweden’s “totally unlawful sentencing” of the former Iranian official.
Swedish authorities have yet to respond to the Iranian ministry’s announcement, but experts believe it will only increase tensions between the two countries.