Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of an Iranian-Swedish scholar, Ahmadreza Jalali, his wife told Radio Farda.
“We were informed of the ruling on Saturday without receiving a copy of the written verdict," said Vida Mehran Nia.
Jalali (or Djalali), a resident of Sweden since 2009, is a physician and researcher focused on crisis management affiliated with the Karolinska Institute near Stockholm. While on an official academic visit hosted by Tehran University, Jalali was accused of “collaboration with a hostile government” and arrested in April 2016. Since then, he has been kept behind bars at Tehran’s notorious prison, Evin.
Jalali was tried by a notorious Judge, Abolqassem Salavati in a Revolutionary Court and sentenced to death for “corruption on Earth” on October 21. Salavati is well-known for issuing harsh sentences, especially in political cases.
Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Ja’fari Dolatabadi said on October 24 that Jalali had numerous sessions with more than eight Israeli Mossad officers and had allegedly transferred information on military sites and Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization activities, as well as other sensitive data, to Mossad in exchange for money and a residential permit in Sweden.
In an open letter to Iran’s permanent representative to the UN, 74 Nobel laureates condemned the “illegal and unjust verdict” against Jalali, insisting he had been sentenced for refusing to collaborate with Iranian security apparatuses.
Amnesty International (AI) also emphasized that “Jalali has been under pressure to sign documents, admitting that he had collaborated with a 'hostile government.'"
When Jalali refused, he was threatened with being charged with waging a “war against God,” which is punishable by death in Iran, AI noted, adding, “There has been no evidence showing Jalai has ever had any activity outside the academic domain.”
Sweden has condemned the sentence and said it had brought the matter up at high-level meetings with Iranian representatives in Stockholm and Tehran.
"We condemn the use of the death penalty in all its forms. The death penalty is an inhuman, cruel, and irreversible punishment that has no place in modern law," Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in an emailed comment.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), with whom Jalai is also affiliated, warned on its website that he was due to be executed in two weeks.
Jalali’s family and colleagues initially kept news of the arrest under wraps in an attempt to prevent the situation from escalating but have spoken out following the issuance of the death penalty.
The VUB announced the news on their website, insisting Jalali had received neither a trial nor access to a lawyer.
The university’s rector, Caroline Pauwels, announced, “A scientist performing important humanitarian work gets sentenced without public trial and is looking at the death penalty.
This is an outrageous violation of universal human rights, against which we should react decisively.”
The head of VUB's Research Group on Emergency and Disaster Medicine, Ives Hubloue, told Science, "Jalali is not interested in politics. We don't believe he would do anything at all (against the Iranian government). We don't believe he did anything wrong. Let him go. Let him do his work. We need him."
Hubloue told the publication he believed Jalali’s arrest was related to his international contacts at the university, some of whom are from countries hostile to Iran, such as Israel. But he maintained the contacts were solely scientific.