Sweden urges Iran to halt execution of Karolinska researcher

Sweden urges Iran to halt execution of Karolinska researcher
A protest outside the Iranian embassy in Sweden in 2017. Photo: Hossein Salmanzadeh/TT
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde has spoken to her Iranian counterpart to condemn the death sentence of Iranian-Swedish professor Ahmadreza Djalali.

Linde, who announced the call on Twitter, said she had been in touch with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif following reports that Iran was preparing to carry out the execution of Djalali, a specialist in emergency medicine.

“Sweden denounces the death penalty and is working to not have the sentence against Djalali carried out,” Linde wrote on Twitter.

Djalali, formerly based in Stockholm where he worked at the Karolinska Institute, a medical university, was arrested during a visit to Iran in April 2016.

He was subsequently found guilty of passing information about two Iranian nuclear scientists to Israel's Mossad intelligence agency that led to their assassinations.

Djalali has said he is being punished for refusing to spy for Iran while working in Europe.

His lawyers also claimed they were blocked from presenting submissions ahead of the Supreme Court hearing.

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While imprisoned he was granted Swedish citizenship in February 2018, only months after his death sentence was confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court.

The imprisoned academic's wife told news agency TT on Tuesday that her husband had informed her that he was being moved to another prison where he would await his sentence in isolation, indicating an execution was imminent.

Barbro Elm, a spokeswoman for Sweden's foreign ministry, told AFP they were aware of the reports of the “impending execution of the sentence”.

“We are trying to clarify the reports and are continually raising the issue with representatives for Iranian authorities,” Elm said.

Djalali's death sentence has been widely condemned by rights groups and by UN rights experts, with Amnesty International repeating its call for Djalali to be freed on Tuesday.

“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,” Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.


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