Swedish Resident Who Tried to March Through Iran With Monarchist Flag Facing National Security Charges
On March 21, 2017, Kamran Ghaderi, an Iranian-born resident of Sweden, began walking from Stockholm toward Iran carrying the country’s pre-revolution national flag. In his Twitter bio he wrote that he was “walking to Iran for freedom.”
In February 2018, after crossing 11 countries, he was arrested in Iran at the Oroumiyeh border near Turkey and charged with “propaganda against the state,” “assembly and collusion against national security” and “insulting the supreme leader and officials of the Islamic Republic,” a relative told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on April 10, 2018.
He was released at an unknown date but arrested again in March. It’s not clear whether he was released on bail or the charges were dropped.
“When he crossed onto Iranian soil he was detained by border guards for carrying the lion and sun flag and released a few days later,” said the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “But it seems the Intelligence Ministry caught wind and arrested him on March 7 and sent him to prison in Tabriz [city].”
“He told us on the phone that there’s a possibility he could be transferred to Tehran but for now he’s in Tabriz,” added the source.
After Iran’s monarchy was ousted following the country’s 1979 revolution, the lion and sun symbol on the flag was replaced with an emblem representing various Islamic symbols including the word “Allah” (God) by the newly established Islamic Republic.
Today, the old flag has become a symbol for some Iranian opposition groups in exile, particularly monarchists seeking the return of the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979).
The source told CHRI that Ghaderi had intended to end his march at Iran’s Pasargadae archeological site, where the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC) is buried.
During his march, Ghaderi posted regularly on Twitter and gave a number of interviews to Iranian monarchist websites based abroad. The source told CHRI that these interviews have become the basis of the indictment against Ghaderi.
Ghaderi, 48, emigrated to Sweden at the age of 15. His wife and two children have Swedish citizenship but he has never applied for it himself.