Iranian-Born Swedish Resident Sentenced to Death Based on Forced Confession
Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-born Swedish resident who has been imprisoned in Iran since April 2016, was sentenced to death for “moharebeh” (enmity with God) based on a forced confession, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
“On two occasions, Ahmadreza’s interrogators forced him to read word for word from a piece of paper and filmed him in his solitary cell,” a source close to the Djalali family told CHRI. “They threatened to harm his children in Sweden if he did not say those words in front of the camera. Ahmadreza signed and read the written statements out of fear. They also added other charges that were never brought up during interrogation.”
“The court also ignored his complaint against his interrogators for fabricating a case against him based on forced confessions,” added the source, who requested anonymity.
The sentence, which was issued by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on October 21, 2017, for Djalali’s alleged collaboration with Israel, will be appealed before the 20-day deadline, the source told CHRI.
Djalali is a non-practicing general medicine physician with a post-doctorate degree in emergency and disaster medicine. He had previously traveled to Iran by invitation of state organizations, including the Red Crescent, without problems.
Salavati has presided over many cases against dual nationals, including Iranian-Americans Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian, who were released in January 2016 in a prisoner swap deal with the United States.
He is also the presiding judge in current cases against dual nationals including Iranian-American Siamak Namazi, his father Baquer Namazi, and British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
In all these cases, the victims were held without due process and sentenced under unclear or unannounced charges, and denied full and proper legal representation.
“The lawyer was given not more than two minutes to defend him,” the source told CHRI. “The court did not take into consideration any of the evidence gathered by the family to prove his innocence.”
Djalali went on hunger strike on February 15, 2017, for almost three weeks to protest being denied a lawyer and being threatened by interrogators and Salavati with the death penalty before his trial.
Tehran University Invite
“We have been informed that he has been accused of cooperation with the Israeli government and that his education and family expenses in Sweden were paid by Israel,” said the source.
“Ahmadreza had shown his invitation letter from the university that had nothing to do with the Israeli government, but it made no difference,” added the source.
On April 24, 2016, Djalali, who lives in Sweden with his wife and two children, was arrested in Tehran by Intelligence Ministry agents and held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 209 where he was interrogated for several months.
Djalali was officially invited by Tehran University to speak about his knowledge and experience as a disaster medical response expert.
The Judiciary’s ongoing imprisonment of dual nationals contradicts President Hassan Rouhani’s repeated calls for expatriates to return to Iran. The growing number of arrests also reflects hardliners’ efforts to prevent the engagement with the West that the Rouhani administration has sought to encourage.
At least 10 dual and foreign nationals are currently imprisoned in Iran.
Iranian-born Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour, serving a life sentence, has been held since October 2008; Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, held since October 2015 and his father, 80-year-old Baquer Namazi, held since February 2016, have both been sentenced to ten years in prison; 77-year-old Iranian-British dual citizen Kamal Foroughi, sentenced to seven years in prison, has been held since 2011; American citizen Xiyue Wang, held since the summer of 2016, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran; Iranian-British dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016; Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born US permanent resident held since September 2015, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison; and Iranian-Austrian dual citizen Kamran Ghaderi, held since January 2016, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Iranian-American Karan Vafadari, held since July 2016, has not been sentenced yet.
Update on October 24, 2017: According to a report by Nature, Ahmadreza Djalali wrote in a letter that he was jailed in Iran for refusing to spy: “According to the document, in 2014 two representatives of the Iranian military and intelligence service asked Djalali to spy on European countries for Iran — in particular, on ‘critical infrastructures, counter-terrorism and CBRNE [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives] capabilities, sensitive operational plans, and also research projects, relevant to terrorism and crisis.’ It says he refused.”