The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Iran says it’s reviewing request to delay Swedish doctor’s execution

Demonstrators in Stockholm hold posters on May 14 with a portrait of Swedish-Iranian doctor and researcher Ahmad Reza Jalali, who is imprisoned and sentenced to death in Iran. (Anders Wiklund/AFP/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

Iran this week said it was reviewing a request to delay the execution of an Iranian-born Swedish academic convicted of espionage.

The case of Ahmadreza Jalali, a disaster medicine doctor, has drawn widespread international condemnation and put a spotlight on Iran’s pattern of arresting dual nationals on spurious charges, often for political leverage.

Jalali’s death sentence is “final,” a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Monday, adding that the judiciary was considering an appeal by his lawyers to delay the execution scheduled for May 21.

Iranian authorities arrested Jalali, 50, when he traveled to Tehran for a conference in 2016. Officials accused him of spying for Israel’s Mossad, including leaking details that led to the killings of two Iranian nuclear scientists in 2010.

A judge then sentenced him to death following what his lawyers said was a forced confession. A panel of U.N. experts said in March that Jalali has been subjected to “severe physical and psychological ill-treatment” in prison that amounted to torture.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement urging Iran to halt the execution and revoke his death sentence, which the agency called “an arbitrary deprivation of life.”

“It’s a nightmare,” Jalali’s wife, Vida Mehrannia, told the Associated Press last week from Stockholm, where she lives with their two children.

“For the politics of other countries, we are suffering,” she said.

The news comes during heightened tensions between Iran and Sweden over Stockholm’s decision to arrest and prosecute an Iranian official for murder and war crimes.

Swedish authorities apprehended former judicial official Hamid Nouri in Stockholm in 2019 and charged him over his alleged role in the mass execution of dissidents in Iran in 1988.

The landmark case concluded May 4, and a verdict is expected in July. Iran denies the two cases are linked and has rejected talk of a prisoner swap.

But Iranian officials have denounced Nouri’s trial as “politicized” and led by “hypocrites.” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was a member of the judicial commission that oversaw the execution orders Nouri is accused of carrying out.

In April, Sweden’s Foreign Ministry issued a new advisory warning its citizens against all nonessential travel to Iran, citing “the security situation.”

“Foreign travelers can be arbitrarily detained and prosecuted without clear reasons,” the statement said.

Just days after issuing the warning, the ministry confirmed that a Swedish man was detained in Iran.

Jalali was a Swedish resident at the time of his arrest, but Sweden granted him full citizenship in 2018 as part of an effort to secure his release. In recent years, Iran has commuted the death sentences of several dual nationals, including Iranian American Amir Hekmati in 2014.

In December, Jalali’s execution also appeared imminent after he spoke with Mehrannia to alert her of his transfer to a new prison. But judicial officials reportedly called off the transfer amid an outpouring of support for Jalali, Mehrannia and her lawyer said.

Now, the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, which monitors death penalty cases in Iran, says the Jalali and Nouri cases are clearly linked.

Jalali’s imminent execution is a “reaction to the trial of Hamid Nouri for war crimes in Sweden” and “demonstrates once again that the Islamic Republic of Iran uses the death penalty as an extortion and pressure tool on Western countries,” the group said in a recent statement.

Loading...