An Iranian scientist who worked for a Belgian university has been threatened with the death penalty in Iran, the Amnesty International reported on February 7. Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, a resident of Sweden and a professor at a Belgian university, has been detained in Iran since last April. According to the right group, he was put on trial on January 31 at a Revolutionary Court in Tehran without access to a lawyer, and the judge told him he could be sentenced to death on “espionage” charges. According to other reports, he is set to be executed in two weeks.
Djalali has been on hunger strike since last December when the Iranian authorities reportedly used “intense pressure” to force him to sign a “confession” statement of being a foreign spy. When he refused, the Amnesty report adds, authorities threatened to charge him with “enmity against God” – a charge that carries the death penalty in Iran. Djalali, a medical doctor and researcher in disaster medicine, had traveled to Iran to visit family and attend workshops at Tehran and Shiraz universities. He is now languishing in Iran’s notorious Evin prison in Tehran.
Comment: Djalali’s case is the latest example of Iran’s increasing crackdown against dual nationals and Iranians with ties to Europe and America. Last October, an Iranian court also sentenced an Iranian-American businessman and his elderly father to 10 years in jail on spurious charges of cooperating with the United States. On January 22, a Revolutionary Court in Tehran upheld a five-year jail term for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian mother whom the Iranian authorities accused of conspiring to overthrow the Iranian regime – baseless allegations that her family members have repeatedly rejected. Her husband has claimed that the IRGC is using his wife as a “bargaining chip” to secure a decades-old £500 [$620] million debt for a tank deal from the British government.