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Iranian-Swedish academic's execution 'imminent', as Swedish foreign minister, rights group call for release

Ahmadreza Djalali [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 November, 2020

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Ahmadreza Djalali is said to be in solitary confinement at Evin prison ahead of his execution.
An Iranian-Swedish professor arrested on spying charges in 2016 is set to be executed "imminently", after being moved into solitary confinement unit in Evin prison, Amnesty International has reported.

Ahmadreza Djalali lectured at the Karolinska Institute in the Swedish capital and was arrested in Iran and convicted of espionage, one of a number of dual nationals detained by Tehran.

He had been accused of providing information to Israel which aided the assassination of several nuclear scientists.

"In light of reports that Iran may have planned to enforce a death penalty against the Swedish citizen Djalali, I have today spoken with Iran's foreign minister (Mohammad Javad) Zarif," Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Twitter.

"Sweden condemns the death penalty and works to ensure that the verdict against Djalali is not enforced."

Djalali was granted Swedish citizenship in 2017.

Djalali's wife told her he thought he was due to be executed, Swedish radio reported on Tuesday.

Iran responded by saying Sweden's "information" regarding the execution is "incorrect". 

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said: "Unfortunately, the Swedish authorities' information on the situation of Mr. Ahmadreza Djalali, who is in prison due to security crimes, is incomplete and incorrect."

"As Dr. Zarif ... explained to Ms. Linde, Iran's judiciary is independent and any meddling in the issuance or execution of judicial rulings is unacceptable," state media quoted Khatibzadeh as saying.

In a letter written from inside Evin prison in August 2017, Ahmadreza Djalali said he was being held solely because of his refusal to use his academic ties in European institutions to spy for Iran.

Amnesty International has joined a chorus of voices demanding his release.

"We were horrified to learn that the authorities have instructed the office in charge of implementing sentences to transfer Ahmadreza Djalali to solitary confinement and implement his death sentence no later than a week from 24 November," said Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy.

"We call on members of the international community to immediately intervene, including through their embassies in Tehran, to save Ahmadreza Djalali’s life before it is too late.

"It is appalling that despite repeated calls from UN human rights experts to quash Ahmadreza Djalali’s death sentence and release him, the Iranian authorities have instead decided to push for this irreversible injustice.

"They must immediately halt any plans to execute Ahmadreza Djalali and end their shocking assault on his right to life". 


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