Iran General NewsJailed Swedes return home from Iran

Jailed Swedes return home from Iran

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AFP: Two Swedish nationals arrived home Tuesday, a day after Iran unexpectedly released them after jailing them last year for espionage. STOCKHOLM, April 17, 2007 (AFP) – Two Swedish nationals arrived home Tuesday, a day after Iran unexpectedly released them after jailing them last year for espionage.

“We were well-treated during the entire length of our detention,” Stefan Johansson told reporters at Stockholm airport at a news conference with his co-detainee Jari Hjortmar.

Johansson said he was “very happy to be finally free and to return home after such a long time.”

The two men were arrested in March 2006 for taking pictures of military installations on Iran’s southern island of Qeshm and sentenced to two years in prison.

They said they had been photographing dolphins.

“To us, the situation seemd absurd. We had taken tourist photos and we were being accused of being spies,” said Johansson. “To us, it seemed unreal.”

Urban Ahlin, of the Swedish parliament’s foreign affairs committee and helped negotiate their release, said at the same press conference: “From the beginning, we were convinced of the innocence of these two men.”

Their release comes less than two weeks after 15 British naval personnel held by Iran on accusations of illegally entering Iranian waters were suddenly pardoned and released.

Two other Europeans, German tourist Donald Klein and French boat skipper Stephane Lherbier, were also both freed earlier this year before completing 18-month sentences for violating Iran’s territorial waters.

And French academic returned home last week after the Iranian authorities returned his passport, which has been seized on January 30 during a trip to the volatile province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

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