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Iran Intelligence Ministry arrests Swedish national on espionage charges

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Iranian security forces.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry says it has arrested a Swedish national who was visiting the country on espionage charges after having him under surveillance for some time.

In a statement on Saturday, the ministry said Iranian security forces have "identified and arrested a citizen of the Kingdom of Sweden on espionage charges."

The ministry did not reveal the name or age of the detained Swedish person, nor did it provide any information as to when or where the arrest was made.

The Swedish national had been put “on the suspect list of the anti-espionage unit of the Intelligence Ministry during several previous trips to Iran because of some of [their] suspicious behavior and contacts," the statement read.

The statement emphasized that all the suspect’s moves, communications, and trips to different Iranian cities, which had been conducted entirely outside of tourist destinations, had been under constant surveillance by the elite anti-espionage agents of the Intelligence Ministry from the moment of arrival until the suspect left the borders of the Islamic Republic.

"The findings by the anti-espionage unit of the ministry showed that the Swedish suspect, using professional communication and security practices and secrecy, was in contact with a number of suspected European and non-European elements in Iran in all their previous trips,” the statement said.

It added that the Swedish suspect re-entered Iran several months ago following the arrest of “another European spy” in order to acquire information about the identity of the detained European person and how he was arrested by the Intelligence Ministry.

This time, the statement said, the Iranian security forces had also put the Swedish spy under surveillance and he was arrested while trying to leave the country.

The aforementioned suspect had a history of traveling to the occupied Palestinian territories before leaving for Iran, it pointed out.

As the Intelligence Ministry has repeatedly announced, it regards Iran's security and the nation's peace as its redline and will give a decisive response to the slightest violation of the country's security borders, the statement warned.

A spokesperson for the Swedish Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the ministry could not immediately comment.

Relations between Tehran and Stockholm are tense after Sweden detained and put on trial ex-Iranian official Hamid Nouri on unfounded allegations made by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group.

Nouri was arrested upon arrival in Sweden at Stockholm Airport in November 2019 and was immediately imprisoned.

Earlier this month, a Swedish court sentenced Nouri to life imprisonment. The court, which was described by Iran as illegal in the first place, convicted Nouri of war crimes and crimes against humanity based on allegations leveled against him by the MKO terrorists.

His accusers allege Nouri was involved in the execution and torture of MKO members in 1988. Nouri has vehemently rejected the allegation.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani has vehemently rejected as “unacceptable” the Swedish court’s decision to hand Nouri a life sentence

Kan’ani strongly condemned the Swedish court’s “political statement” which has leveled “baseless and fabricated” allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran, its judiciary system, and also its life sentence issued against Nouri.

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