Iranian-Swedish scientist's execution on hold for 'next few days'

Amnesty International said Ahmadreza Djalali's execution has been halted for now, but his fate is unclear. The rights group, Sweden and the UN are protesting Iran's treatment of him.

al-monitor Vida Mehrannia (L), wife of Ahmadreza Djalali, who was sentenced to the death penalty for espionage in Iran without a fair trial, holds a press conference with an interpreter (R) on June 26, 2018, at the Flemish Parliament in Brussels.  Photo by MAARTEN WEYNANTS/AFP via Getty Images.

Dec 3, 2020

A leading human rights group said Thursday that an Iranian-Swedish scientist’s execution has been halted — at least for now.

Ahmadreza Djalali’s planned execution is on hold for the “next few days,” a spokeswoman for Amnesty International told Al-Monitor.

Djalali, an emergency medicine specialist, was arrested in Iran in 2016. He was charged with espionage, and later sentenced to death on the charge of “corruption on earth.” Amnesty International said the charge is vague and that his confession was extracted via torture.

Djalali was reportedly to be put to death late last month, which prompted intervention from the Swedish government. Djalali is a citizen of both Iran and Sweden, and his family lives in the latter. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship and rejected Sweden’s involvement.

It is unclear where exactly Djalali’s case stands now. The United Nations reported last week that he was to transfer to the Raja’i Shahr prison, which is routine for soon-to-be-executed prisoners. The UN also said the charges were arbitrary.

Amnesty International said the transfer to Raja’i Shahr did not take place, and that an order halted his death for the time being. The London-based organization did not have further details Thursday and called for his immediate release.

Iran receives regular criticism for its detention of foreigners on dubious charges. Last week, Iran released the Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert from prison following protests from Australia and the United Kingdom.

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