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

A senior employee at the Swiss embassy in Tehran died 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.  

Neither report contained any further information about the circumstances of her death. The Swiss Embassy has not yet formally announced the news.  

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

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

The first secretary’s body was discovered by a caretaker who arrived at the property on Tuesday morning. 

He noticed the diplomat was not home, but that her belongings had not been moved, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported. 

He eventually found her lifeless body and phoned emergency services. 

An initial examination of the body found she had injuries to her head and arms. A detailed post-mortem will now be carried out.

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

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

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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