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Researcher’s Wife Asks Rouhani To Prevent Death Sentence

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 reportedly sentenced to death for espionage, February 13, 2017

The wife of an Iranian researcher sentenced to death in Tehran has written to President Hassan Rouhani asking him to step in and assign an impartial board to look into what she says is a violation of her husband’s citizen’s rights.

Radio Farda received a copy of the letter from a person close to the family, in which Djalali’s wife, Vida Mehran Nia, says she holds out hope that Rouhani’s promises on respecting citizens’ rights will be fulfilled.

Maintaining that Rouhani’s Intelligence Ministry is directly responsible for producing a film that shows Djalali confessing to spying against Iran, Mehran Nia has noted, “My defenseless husband’s case is another example of his citizen’s rights being violated, as well as mine and those of his children and heartbroken mother.”

Iranian state television broadcast on December 17 what it said were the confessions of Djalali, whom it said had provided information to Israel to help the country assassinate several Iranian nuclear scientists.

Djalali was tried by a hardliner judge, Abolqassem Salavati, in a Revolutionary Court and sentenced to death for “Crruption on Earth” on October 21. Salavati is well-known for issuing harsh sentences, especially in political cases.

Iran's Supreme Court upheld two weeks ago the death sentence against Djalali, a doctor and lecturer at the Karolinska Institute, a Stockholm medical university.

Djalali was arrested in Iran in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage. He has denied the charges.

In the television report, titled Ax to the Root, Djalali is linked to the assassination of four Iranian scientists between 2010 and 2012 that Tehran said was an Israeli attempt to sabotage its nuclear energy program. Djalali said in the report he had given the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad information about key nuclear scientists.

"They were showing me pictures of some people or satellite photos of nuclear facilities and were asking me to give them information about that,” Djalali said in the television report.

However, several days later, a taped voice attributed to Djalali and circulated on social media denied the confession, saying the video had been doctored.

Mehran Nia also said her husband had been forced to read a pre-agreed confession on camera. "After three months in solitary confinement, his interrogators told him that he would be released only if he reads from a text in front of the camera," she told Reuters by telephone from Stockholm.

"My husband told me that they shouted at him each time he was saying something different from the text and stopped the filming," Mehran Nia added.

"Djalali did not have any sensitive information about Iran’s nuclear program. If he had, he would have been barred from leaving the country," she said.

Sweden has condemned Djalali’s death sentence and said it had raised the matter with Iranian envoys in Stockholm and Tehran.

Seventy-five Nobel prize laureates petitioned Iranian authorities last month for Djalali’s release so he could "continue his scholarly work for the benefit of mankind." They said Djalali has suggested it was his refusal to work for Iranian intelligence services that led to this “unfair, flawed trial.”

The United Nations and international human rights organizations regularly list Iran as a country with one of the world’s highest execution rates. Iran's Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least 30 dual nationals during the past two years, mostly on spying charges.