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Iran releases Swedish nationals

TEHRAN, April 16 (Mehr News Agency) -- Iran on Monday released two Swedish men jailed allegedly for photographing military facilities in the southern Iranian island of Qeshm. The two were arrested on charges of espionage and were sentenced to two years of imprisonment with their term started on March 21, 2006.

The release of the jailed persons came as a result of a decision by legal officials.

Stefan Johanssen and Jari Hjortmar were handed over to the Swedish ambassador in the Foreign Ministry to Tehran in a ceremony attended by Iran's Foreign Ministry Director for Central and Northern European Affairs Ali Baqeri, Iran's ambassador to Sweden, and Swedish MP Urban Ahlin who has made frequent visits to Tehran to win the release of his nationals.

Stefan Johanssen told reporters that he has been well-treated during his detention in Iran.

Ali Baqeri said there is no connection between the release of the Swedish nationals and the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

The Swedish MP also thanked Iran for releasing them before serving their jail terms, saying they had been arrested due to a mistake and misunderstanding.

The MP said even Iran's foreign minister will travel to Sweden in mid-May and a Swedish trade delegation will also visit Tehran later.

A statement released by the Foreign Ministry said the decision to pardon the two persons followed demands from their families and the frequent requests by certain Swedish politicians.

It said the decision was adopted in line with humanitarian beliefs and values of the Islamic Republic.

... Payvand News - 4/17/07 ... --

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