Swedish-Iranian academic faces 'imminent' execution in Iran

Rights groups are urging Iranian authorities to halt their planned execution of Ahmadreza Djalali.

al-monitor A photo taken on Feb. 13, 2017, shows a flyer during a protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Brussels for Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic detained in Tehran for nearly a year and sentenced to death for espionage. Photo by DIRK WAEM/AFP via Getty Images.

Dec 1, 2020

Swedish-Iranian doctor Ahmadreza Djalali was transferred to a new prison in Iran where he now faces imminent execution, his wife and rights groups said Tuesday.

Djalali’s wife, Vida Mehrannia, told the Iran Human Rights group that Djalali's lawyer was informed he would be moved at 5 p.m. Tuesday to Rajai Shahr Prison, the facility that holds most death row inmates.

“Ahmadreza Djalali is at imminent risk of execution and only a strong and urgent reaction from the international community can save his life,” Iran Human Rights director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said in a statement.

Djalali is a physician who specializes in disaster medicine and previously lectured at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. He traveled to Iran to attend a conference in April 2016 and was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials after arriving.

He was accused of spying for Israel and convicted of espionage following apparent confessions he says were obtained through torture. In October 2017, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Djalali to death in a trial human rights experts have called grossly unfair.

According to Amnesty International, Djalali was subjected to long periods of solitary confinement while detained at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Prison guards have repeatedly denied him medical treatment despite Djalali’s reported leukemia, the rights group said.

A group of United Nations human rights experts called his planned execution “completely reprehensible.”

“On several counts, this would be a clear and serious violation of Iran’s obligations under international human rights law, especially the right to life. We urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to stop this execution immediately,” the experts said last week.

Iran is still holding a number of dual nationals, including US citizens Siamak and Baquer Namazi and Morad Tahbaz. Last week, British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert was released from Iran after more than 800 days in prison on espionage charges.

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