[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Iran pardons jailed Swedish pair
Iranian authorities say they have pardoned two Swedish men jailed after photographing military facilities.

Stefan Johanssen and Jari Hjortmar, who had been sentenced to at least two years in jail, would be freed later on Monday, Iran's foreign ministry said.

They were arrested in March 2006 for taking pictures of installations on the southern island of Qeshm.

Earlier this month Iran released 15 UK naval personnel detained while allegedly operating in Iranian waters.

Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the pardoned pair would be handed over to Swedish diplomats.

"Following the requests of the families and repeated requests from Swedish politicians... they have been pardoned and will be freed at 1800 (1430 GMT)," he said.

The pardon was granted as part of Iran's "humanitarian efforts", he added.

Diplomatic efforts

According to Swedish media reports the men had been working as construction workers at the time of their arrest.

But Swedish officials said they would not comment until the men had arrived back home.

Qeshm is an Iranian island in the Strait of Hormuz, about 1,400km (870 miles) south of the capital, Tehran, and near the city of Bandar Abbas.

Mr Hosseini said Urban Ahlin, a Swedish MP, had travelled to Iran several times in recent months to negotiate the release of the two men, AFP news agency reported.

A German citizen and a French man arrested in late 2005 have also been freed by Iran in recent months.

Swedes jailed in Iran for photos
02 May 06 |  Middle East
Country profile: Iran
20 Apr 06 |  Country profiles

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific