DUBAI, May 4 (Reuters) –A Swedish-Iranian national sentenced to death in Iran on charges of spying for Israel will be executed by May 21, Iran‘s semi-official ISNA news agency said on Wednesday, as the trial of a former Iranian official suspected of war crimes ended in Sweden.
Ahmadreza Djalali, a disaster medicine doctor and researcher, was arrested in 2016 while on an academic visit to Iran. Iran‘s judiciary did not immediately comment on ISNA’s report that Djalali faces execution later this month.
#Iran is the second most active country for its use of the death penalty and is the world’s most prolific executioner of women and children.
“This report clearly demonstrates that the death penalty is used as a political tool or a tool for oppression.”https://t.co/anDZqI4PPM
— Kayhan Life (@KayhanLife) May 4, 2022
“Sweden and (the) EU condemn the death penalty and demands that Djalali be released,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on her Twitter feed. “We have repeatedly stated this to Iranian representatives. We are in contact with Iran.”
The announcement came shortly before the trial of Hamid Noury, a former Iranian prosecution official arrested by Swedish authorities in 2019, ended in Stockholm. The verdict is due to be announced on July 14.
Iran‘s state TV reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian demanded Noury’s immediate release in a telephone call with his Swedish counterpart Linde, calling the trial “illegal”.
If found guilty, Noury faces a maximum life sentence on charges of international war crimes and human rights abuses.
Noury is accused of playing a leading role in the killing of political prisoners executed on government orders at Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, in 1988. Amnesty International has put the number executed at around 5,000, saying in a 2018 report that “the real number could be higher”.
Under Swedish law, courts can try Swedish citizens and other nationals for crimes against international law committed abroad.
On Monday, Iran‘s foreign ministry summoned the Swedish envoy to protest at “the baseless and fabricated accusations that the Swedish prosecutor made against Iran during Noury’s court case”, Iranian media reported earlier.
Last year, the U.N. investigator on human rights in Iran called for an independent inquiry into allegations of the state-ordered 1988 executions and the role played by President Ebrahim Raisi as then-Tehran deputy prosecutor.
Raisi, when asked about the allegations, told reporters after his election in June last year that he had defended national security and human rights.
In Iran, Djalali was accused of providing information to Israel to help it assassinate several senior nuclear scientists. His wife denied the charges. Iran‘s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence and Djalali staged a hunger strike in protest at his “forced confession”.
Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Rights activists have accused Iran of using them as bargaining chips. Iran, which does not recognise dual nationality, denies taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage.
However, Iran has exchanged several jailed foreigners and dual nationals for Iranians detained abroad.
(Additional reporting by Simon Johnson in Stockholm; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Nick Macfie, Mark Heinrich and Alex Richardson)