Iranian ambassador refused invite to Stockholm Nobel Prize banquet

The organisers of the Nobel Prize ceremony on Friday declared Iran's ambassador was not welcome at the glittering event in December, just days after issuing a similar snub to Russia and Belarus.

Iranian ambassador refused invite to Stockholm Nobel Prize banquet
Guests at the Nobel Banquet at Stockholm City Hall in 2019. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

“Given the serious and escalating situation… Iran’s ambassador should not be invited to the Nobel Prize award ceremony”, the Nobel Foundation said in a statement, referring to Tehran’s brutal crackdown on widespread protests.

“For several decades, the Nobel Foundation’s starting point has been to invite all countries with diplomatic representation in Sweden (to)… celebrate the laureates’ contributions to science, literature and peace.”

However, earlier this week it announced that the envoys for Russia and Belarus would not be invited due to the war in Ukraine, nor would the leader of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party.

The foundation said it had “decided to follow the Swedish and European diplomatic policy of not inviting Russia and Belarus because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

“Although Sweden and other European countries do not yet have any corresponding diplomatic policy regarding Iran, the issue is still evolving and we believe that… Iran’s ambassador should not be invited”.

The glitzy bash is held each year in Stockholm on December 10 when laureates in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics receive their awards from King Carl XVI Gustaf, followed by a gala banquet for around 1,200 guests.

A separate ceremony is held in Oslo on the same day for the Peace Prize laureate.

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Ex-Iran official’s outburst in Swedish courtroom on first day of appeals trial

A former Iranian prison official, who was last year sentenced to life in prison in Sweden, was escorted out of the courtroom following several reprimands as his appeals trial opened.

Ex-Iran official's outburst in Swedish courtroom on first day of appeals trial

The case relates to the killing of at least 5,000 prisoners across Iran, allegedly ordered by supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini, to avenge attacks carried out by exiled opposition group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) at the end of the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88.

Hamid Noury, 61, was convicted of a “serious crime against international law” and “murder” in July 2022 by a Stockholm district court.

It found that Noury was an assistant prosecutor in a prison near Tehran at the time of the events and “retrieved prisoners, brought them to the committee and escorted them to the execution site”.

The lower court trial was the first related to the mass executions in Iran in the 1980s and was particularly sensitive, as rights activists accuse senior Iranian officials now in power – including current President Ebrahim Raisi – of having been members of the committees that handed down the death sentences.

As his appeals trial opened on Wednesday, Noury’s defence lawyer Thomas Bodström asked the court to acquit him or reduce his sentence.

Noury, dressed in a white polo shirt, asked to make a statement, but was told by Judge Robert Green he had to wait until it was time for the defence to present its case.

Noury continued to speak, deploring the conditions of his jail and complaining of problems with his vision, waving several pairs of glasses at the judge.

Following multiple outbursts and reprimands, Noury was escorted out of the courtroom.

Noury was sentenced for his role in the killings targeting the MEK and for participating in a second wave directed at “left-wing sympathisers who were deemed to have renounced their Islamic faith”, the court said in its ruling.

Noury had argued that he was on leave during the period in question, and said he worked in another prison, denouncing the accusations as a plot by the MEK to discredit the Islamic Republic.

Noury was arrested at a Stockholm airport in November 2019 after Iranian dissidents in Sweden filed police complaints against him.

The case has strained relations between Stockholm and Tehran, which has repeatedly called for Noury’s release and dismissed last year’s verdict as “political”.