Tehran University Invite Lands Iranian-Swedish Disaster Medicine Expert in Jail
Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-born Swedish resident and expert in emergency disaster medicine who has been detained in Evin Prison without trial since April 24, 2016, is prepared to “die” on hunger strike rather than be executed, his wife told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Djalali was arrested by the Intelligence Ministry while visiting the Iranian capital after being officially invited by Tehran University.
“Ahmadreza had always traveled to Iran by invitation of state organizations, including the Red Crescent, and never experienced any problems before,” said Vida Mehran-nia, adding that her husband has been charged with “collaborating with enemy states.”
“With his (expertise in emergency disaster medicine), Ahmadreza worked hard for Iran for 19 years and always tried to establish scientific cooperation between Iran and other countries… He doesn’t deserve the way he’s being treated,” she continued. “Don’t allow [the interrogators] to decide the fate of my husband and his family. It’s not just Ahmadreza’s life that is at stake. His arrest is affecting my life and my children’s, too. Since his detention, our life has been shattered.”
“We kept silent after his arrest because we thought there had been some mistake or misunderstanding, and that he would be acquitted and released,” she said. “For seven months, he was denied access to a lawyer. After he was transferred to a public ward, he was permitted legal counsel, but his lawyer told us he cannot talk about the case because it involves national security.”
Djalali was held in solitary confinement at Evin Prison’s Ward 209, controlled by the Intelligence Ministry, and interrogated for seven months before being transferred to the public Ward 7, according to Mehran-nia.
“There’s no evidence against my husband,” she added.
Mehran-nia told the Campaign that her husband began his hunger strike on December 25, the day his interrogators told him he would receive the maximum punishment.
“Previously, they had told him that his case had been reviewed and his trial would start soon. But they put him under so much psychological pressure that he decided to start a hunger strike on the same day,” she added.
A non-practicing general medicine physician who will turn 46 on January 14, Djalali lives in Sweden with his wife and two children. He has a post-doctorate degree in emergency and disaster medicine and computer science applied to medical practice from the University of Eastern Piedmont, Novara, Italy.
Dual Nationals Used as Political Playing Cards
Before and after his presidential election in 2013, Hassan Rouhani repeatedly pledged to facilitate the return of educated expatriate citizens to Iran. Article 48 of his recently launched Charter on Citizens Rights also states: “It is a right of every citizen to have freedom of movement inside the country, to exit Iran and to enter Iran, save where this right has been restricted by law.”
However, since 2014 in particular, elements of Iran’s intelligence and security establishment, including the hardline Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards, have detained Iranians with dual citizenship or foreign residency status and charged them with “collaborating with enemy states,” an indirect reference to the U.S. and other Western governments.
The Campaign for Human Rights in Iran calls for the immediate release of Ahmadreza Djalali, as well as the other foreign residents and dual nationals held in Iran in a growing string of imprisonments lacking any legal legitimacy.
Iranian-British dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held since April 2016, has been sentenced to five years in prison; Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, held since October 15, 2015 and his father, 80-year-old Bagher Namazi, held since February 2016, have both been sentenced to ten years in prison; Kamal Foroughi, a 77-year-old Iranian-British man held since May 2011, has been sentenced to eight years in prison; Iranian-American Robin (Reza) Shahini, held since July 2016, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison; and Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born U.S. permanent resident, held since September 2015, has been sentenced to ten years in prison.
*This article was revised to specify that Ahmadreza Djalali is an expert in emergency medicine, on Jan. 12, 2017 at 5:33 p.m.