EU, Stockholm say Swedish citizen held in Iran - officials

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden and the European Union Commission on Monday said a Swedish national is being detained in Iran - the latest known case of a foreign national being held in Iran amid political tensions with the West.

The New York Times earlier on Monday reported that a Swedish citizen, who according to the paper has been working for the European Union's diplomatic corps, had been imprisoned in Iran for more than 500 days.

"A Swedish citizen – a man in his thirties – was detained in Iran in April 2022," the foreign ministry in Stockholm said, adding: "The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Sweden in Tehran are working very intensively on the case and are maintaining close contact with the EU."

A spokesperson for the European Commission on Monday also confirmed a Swedish national being held in Iran, but declined to give further details.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani, when asked about report, said he was not aware of it.

Neither Sweden nor the EU identified the man.

"In our assessment it would complicate the handling of the case if the ministry were to publicly discuss its actions. In light of this, we see no reason to confirm any names," the Swedish foreign ministry said.

Relations between Sweden and Iran have been tense since 2019 when Sweden arrested a former Iranian official for his part in the mass execution and torture of political prisoners in the 1980s. He was sentenced to life in prison last year, prompting Iran to recall its envoy to Sweden in protest.

In May, Iran executed a Swedish-Iranian dissident convicted of leading an Arab separatist group Tehran blames for a number of attacks including one on a military parade in 2018 that killed 25 people.

(Reporting by Simon Johnson and Tassilo Hummel, Gulf Newsroom; Editing by Alison Williams)