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Iran: Rights groups decry planned execution of Iranian-Swedish citizen

Diplomats and agencies have called the espionage charges against Ahmad Reza Jalali unfounded. Some experts speculate that his sentencing is in retribution for the trial in Sweden of former Iranian official Hamid Nouri.

Human rights organizations and relatives have denounced the recent announcement of the date for the execution of Iranian-Swedish citizen Ahmad Reza Jalali. Jalali’s wife is calling for his return to Sweden, while some experts have pointed to possible retribution for the trial in Sweden of former Iranian official Hamid Nouri.

“Ahmad Reza has not been allowed any direct telephone contact with us in Sweden since November 2020,” Vida Mehrannia, Jalali’s wife, told DW’s Persian service.

Mehrannia, like several human rights agencies, believes that her husband is innocent and that his trial was completely unfair.

Quoting “informed sources,” Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported on Wednesday, May 4, that the death sentence of Ahmad Reza Jalali, an Iranian-Swedish citizen and disaster medicine doctor, will be carried out by May 21. The Iranian government sentenced him to death for alleged espionage for Israel.

Speculation over connection to Hamid Nouri trial

However, some experts believe that the sentence was issued in retaliation for the trial taking place in Sweden of Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian official who is implicated in the mass execution of dissidents. The death sentence was announced on the last day of his trial.

Swedish prosecutors have demanded life in prison for Nouri on charges of involvement in the 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners, as well as for “committing war crimes and premeditated murder.”

Maja Åberg of Amnesty International Sweden believes that the announcement of Jalali’s execution is directly related to Nouri’s case. “It indicates that [Iran] sees him as a kind of piece in the jigsaw puzzle, which is very worrying,” she told Sweden’s TT news agency.

Meanwhile, Iran has claimed that its actions against Jalali have nothing to do with Nouri’s case.

“His lawyer went to the Evin Prison’s Prosecutor’s Office to see if the news was true – and it was,” said Mehrannia.

According to Mehrannia, Jalali’s mental and physical condition has worsened after hearing the news of the execution, and he has lost 30 kilograms (66 pounds) from his original weight of 81 kg (179 pounds).

Jalali said that their family is also struggling to process the news, and that the couple’s 10-year-old son is unaware of his father’s death sentence and has only recently learned that his father is imprisoned in Iran.

“My children should not have experienced such days. My 19-year-old daughter has been informed of her father’s death sentence and is worried and upset by this unjust sentence,” she said.

Earlier this month, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted that the reports that Iran may carry out the death penalty against Jalali were “very worrying.”

“Sweden and the EU condemn the death penalty and demand that Jalali be released. We are in contact with Iran,” she said.

On October 21, 2017, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Jalali to death. According to reports, his lawyer was not allowed to be present in the court and he was denied access to the case files. Appeals for judicial review of the sentence have been rejected.

Prisoners protest with hunger strike

His death sentence has been widely protested by human rights organizations both inside and outside Iran. “Jalali’s situation is truly horrific,” UN human rights experts said in a statement in March. “He has been held in prolonged solitary confinement for over 100 days with the constant risk of his imminent execution laying over his head.”

Additionally, Iranian political prisoners Houshang Rezaei and Farhad Meysami, have gone on a hunger strike in Evin and Rajaei-Shahr prisons to protest Jalali’s verdict, saying that they will continue to strike until the death sentence is overturned.

“We denounce the actions of the Iranian authorities in the strongest terms, as well as their complete inaction despite our constant calls for him to be immediately released,” the UN statement said. “The allegations against him are completely baseless and he should be allowed to return to his family in Sweden as soon as possible.”

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