Djalali, a resident in Sweden, was arrested during a trip to Iran in April 2016. He was found guilty in October 2017 of passing information about Iranian nuclear scientists to Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.
Prior to his arrest and detention, Djalali was a researcher at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute.
His sentence was met with protests by both Sweden and the UN. An initial appeal was rejected in December, and his lawyer said earlier this month that a further request to have the sentence overturned has been denied.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry said it has been difficult to get information about the academic’s case. A ministry spokesman said the decision to grant him citizenship may result in Sweden gaining better access and stronger negotiating power with the Iranians.
“We will continue to stay the course and our demands will not change. We demand that his death penalty not be enforced,” Patric Nilsson of the Foreign Ministry told Sveriges Radio.
Said Mahmoudi, a professor of international law at Stockholm University, said the move would give Sweden a better position to stand on in its talks with the Islamic republic.
“There is no doubt that Sweden is now in a stronger position with our contacts in Iran because of this decision. We can now rightfully claim that he is a citizen and that according to the 1963 Convention on Consular Relations we are entitled to assist Djalali in all aspects,” Mahmoudi told Sveriges Radio.
Mahmoudi cautioned however that Iran does not recognize dual citizenship.
The Swedish branch of Amnesty International, which has been advocating Djalali’s case for months, applauded the citizenship decision and called on Swedish authorities to do all they can to help the academic.
“Amnesty hopes and assumes that the Swedish government is now doing its utmost to get Djalali freed,” spokeswoman Ami Hedenborg told Sveriges Radio.