May 8, 2021

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Senior Swiss embassy employee falls to her death from high-rise building in Iran


Senior Swiss embassy employee falls to her death from high-rise building in Iran ‘in tragic accident’

  • Embassy’s first secretary, 51, died after falling from a building in northern Tehran
  • She lived on the 18th floor of the residential building where she fell to her death
  • Foreign Ministry confirmed the news Tuesday, said it had contacted her family 
  • Swiss Embassy had represented the US in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution 

A senior employee at the Swiss embassy in Tehran died in a ‘tragic accident’ on Tuesday after falling from a high-rise building where she lived in the north of the city. 

The 51-year-old diplomat was the embassy’s first secretary, the second-highest ranking employee,a spokesman for emergency services was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency Mehr. 

She lived on the 18th floor of the building in the affluent district of Kamranieh where she fell to her death, the semi-official ILNA news agency said.   

The Swiss foreign ministry in Bern confirmed the news on Tuesday. 

‘The FDFA (ministry) confirms that a Swiss employee of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran died in a fatal accident on Tuesday’, a statement said. 

‘The FDFA and its head Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis are shocked by the tragic death and express their deepest condolences to the family’.

The statement added the ministry was in contact with the woman’s family and local authorities in Iran but did not identify the victim.  

A senior staffer in the Swiss embassy in Iran (pictured) has died after falling from a residential high-rise building in northern Tehran

A senior staffer in the Swiss embassy in Iran (pictured) has died after falling from a residential high-rise building in northern Tehran

Iranian emergency services spokesman Mojtaba Khaledi said the diplomat’s body was found by a gardener after an employee who arrived at her apartment early on Tuesday noticed she was missing, the news agency Fars reported. 

The body was found in the Kamranieh district of Tehran, which is known for its luxurious high-rise buildings and is home to many of Tehran’s diplomats and foreign officials.

Switzerland has represented US diplomatic interests in Iran since Washington and Tehran cut ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. 

The Swiss Embassy’s role as a ‘diplomatic intermediary’ has spanned four decades and seven presidencies, including Jimmy Carter’s hostage crisis and Barack Obama’s nuclear deal. 

The Swiss diplomats call the messenger role ‘brieftrager,’ or ‘the postman.’ 

Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner (pictured) serves as envoy to Iran and also represents US interests in the country as the White House has not had a representative in Tehran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979

Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner (pictured) serves as envoy to Iran and also represents US interests in the country as the White House has not had a representative in Tehran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979

Switzerland’s ‘postmen’ helped deliver messages after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to avoid direct clashes. When Obama became president, the country hosted talks that resulted in the nuclear deal.

After Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran, he reportedly gave the Swiss a phone number, saying: ‘I’d like to see them call me.’

Former ambassadors told the Wall Street Journal that their diplomatic back-channel is successful because Iran and the U.S. can trust that the message will be delivered quickly and in confidence.  

A senior U.S. official said at the time: ‘We don’t communicate with the Iranians that much, but when we do the Swiss have played a critical role to convey messages and avoid miscalculation.’ 

The Swiss back-channel of communications between the US and Iran was key to preventing and escalation in tensions after the assassination of top commander Qassem Soleimani (pictured) in January 2020

The Swiss back-channel of communications between the US and Iran was key to preventing and escalation in tensions after the assassination of top commander Qassem Soleimani (pictured) in January 2020

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