Iran sentences Swedish nationals to prison on drug charges

The two individuals were allegedly arrested with large amounts of opium resin and painkillers, according to judiciary spokesman.

Iran's national flag waves in Tehran.
News of the two men’s arrest had been publicised by Iran in July 2020 [File: Vahid Salemi/AP Photo]

Tehran, Iran – A court in Iran has sentenced two Swedish nationals to separate terms in prison and imposed financial penalties on drug charges.

The country’s judiciary spokesman, Masoud Setayeshi, said the two individuals, identified as “Simon Kasper Brown” and “Stephen Kevin Gilbert”, have been sentenced to five and eight years in prison respectively.

He told reporters during a news conference in Tehran that Brown has also been ordered to pay 10 times the value of his alleged contraband, equaling more than 10 billion Iranian rials (more than $30,000 at current open market exchange rates).

Gilbert was also given 150 million rials (about $500) in financial penalties and 60 “taziri” (discretionary custodial punishment) lashes, according to Setayeshi.

News of the two men’s arrest had been publicised by Iran in July 2020, with local media reporting their arrest came as part of an investigation targeting an “international drug trafficking network”.

A demonstration supporting the Swedish-Iranian doctor Ahmadreza Djalali, who was sentenced to death in Iran.
A demonstration supporting the Swedish-Iranian doctor and researcher Ahmad Reza Jalali in Stockholm [File: Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency/via Reuters]

Their trials had opened in September 2021 at the 15th chamber of Tehran’s revolutionary tribunal.

At the time, the judiciary’s official news website had said they were arrested with almost 10 kilogrammes (20.4 pounds) of opium resin and 21,000 Tramadol painkiller tablets.

In late July, Iran’s intelligence ministry confirmed it had arrested a Swedish national on charges of spying, saying the unnamed individual entered the country as a tourist but was “in contact with a number of suspected European and non-European elements” in Iran to extract information.

Relations between Tehran and Stockholm have been frayed amid increasing tensions in recent years.

Tehran has called for the immediate release of Hamid Nouri, an Iranian citizen who was sentenced to life in prison in July on charges of murder during his time as assistant to the deputy prosecutor in an Iranian prison in 1988.

Tehran recalled its ambassador to Sweden at the time but said it has no immediate plans to cut or reduce diplomatic relations with Sweden.

Iran is also holding Ahmad Reza Jalali, an Iranian-Swedish researcher, imprisoned since 2016 over espionage charges.

Source: Al Jazeera