Iran and Sweden have carried out a prisoner swap that saw Tehran release a European Union diplomat and another man in exchange for an Iranian convicted in Stockholm of committing war crimes over his part in 1988 mass executions in the Islamic Republic, Report informs referring to AP.

The arrest of Hamid Nouri by Sweden in 2019 as he traveled there as a tourist likely sparked the detentions of the two Swedes, part of a long-running strategy by Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution to use those with ties abroad as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.

While Iranian state television claimed without evidence that Nouri had been “illegally detained,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said diplomat Johan Floderus and a second Swedish citizen, Saeed Azizi, had been facing a “hell on earth.”

“Iran has made these Swedes pawns in a cynical negotiation game with the aim of getting the Iranian citizen Hamid Nouri released from Sweden,” Kristersson said Saturday. “It has been clear all along that this operation would require difficult decisions; now the government has made those decisions.”