Nobel Laureates Call on Iran to Free Death Row Sweden-Based Researcher

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Nov 21, 2017
Nobel Laureates Call on Iran to Free Death Row Sweden-Based Researcher

Seventy five Nobel laureates have called on the Iranian government to release Ahmadreza Jalali, a Sweden-based scholar jailed in Iran on allegations of spying for Israel, the BBC Persian reported. “As members of a group of people (and organizations) deeply committed to the wellbeing of humanity according to Alfred Nobel’s advice, we cannot remain silent when a committed researcher, Ahmad Reza Jalali, who is a disaster medicine expert, is threatened to face death,” the Nobel laureates wrote in a letter to Gholamali Khoshro, Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations. The letter urged the Iranian government to release Jalali and allow him to return to Sweden and rejoin his wife and children.

Comment: Agents of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry arrested Jalali, a non-practicing general medicine physician, when he was visiting Tehran at the invitation of Tehran University in April 2016. He is an Iranian national and a permanent resident of Sweden. He is now facing a death penalty on charges of “enmity with God” and “cooperation with the Israeli government.” Jalali has rejected the allegations. In a video clip posted on YouTube last month, he said he was held in a solitary confinement and had been subjected to forced confession.

The Swedish government and international human rights organizations have protested against the death penalty sentence handed to Jalali without due legal process. Zeynab Taheri, one of Jalali's lawyers, confirmed it to Amnesty International on October 23 that his client was sentenced to death.

"Ahmadreza Jalali was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial that once again exposes not only the Iranian authorities' steadfast commitment to use of the death penalty but their utter contempt for the rule of law," Amnesty International representative Philip Luther said.

In a media interview last month, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran’s prosecutor general, accused Jalali of having provided the Israeli spy agency with sensitive information about Iran’s military and nuclear installations.

In the past two years, Iran has stepped up incarceration of Iranians who live in Europe and the United States. Reuters reported this month that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least 30 dual nationals over the past two years, twice as many as earlier reported.

Relatives and lawyers of those arrested say Iranian authorities use them as bargaining chips with foreign powers.

The British government is considering paying Iran a decades-long debt of about $600 million reportedly to secure the release of a British-Iranian mother jailed in Iran.

Intelligence agents from the I.R.G.C.’s Sepah-e Sarallah bureau in Kerman Province arrested Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a Thomson Reuters charity worker in the UK, at Tehran Airport on April 3, 2016. Five months later, a revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced her to five years in prison on vague and spurious “national security-related” charges. I.R.G.C. officials also accused her of “executing media and online campaigns as a member of foreign organizations” to foment a “soft overthrow” of Iran’s Islamic regime – allegations she and her family have strenuously denied.

The imprisonment of Zaghari-Ratcliffee was yet another attempt by I.R.G.C. authorities to extort money from the West and score political gains at home. They have also arrested several Iranian-Americans to use as a leverage for potential prisoner exchanges with Washington and extract political concessions and monetary ransom.