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Sweden, Rights Group Protest Death Sentence Given To Iranian Academic


Ahmadreza Jalali was detained in Iran in April 2016.

Sweden and Amnesty International are protesting against a death penalty sentence imposed on a Swedish-Iranian scholar who was detained in Iran on allegations of spying in April 2016.

Ahmadreza Jalali, a researcher at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, was arrested in Tehran for espionage and "enmity with God" -- a crime that in Iran can result in the death penalty -- during a visit for a conference.

Jalali has Iranian citizenship but is a permanent resident of Sweden. According to Nature magazine, he works on improving hospitals' emergency responses to armed terrorism and radiological, chemical, and biological threats.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told the judiciary's news agency on October 24: "The person had several meetings with [Israeli intelligence agency] Mossad and provided them with sensitive information about Iran's military and nuclear sites in return for money and residency in Sweden."

Sweden condemned the sentence and said it had raised the matter with Iranian representatives in Stockholm and Tehran.

"We condemn the use of the death penalty in all its forms. The death penalty is an inhuman, cruel, and irreversible punishment that has no place in modern law," Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in an e-mailed comment to Reuters.

"The Iranian authorities must urgently quash the death sentence against Iranian-born Swedish resident and specialist in emergency medicine Ahmadreza Jalali," Amnesty said in a statement on October 23.

Zeynab Taheri, one of Jalali's lawyers, told Amnesty on October 23 that his client was sentenced to death for the charge of "corruption on earth" and had been fined $235,000.

Amnesty said that the verdict, which was shown to one of the lawyers, states that Jalali worked with the Israeli government, which helped him obtain his Swedish residency permit.

"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.

"At a time when the Iranian authorities are actively strengthening ties with countries in the European Union, it is absurd that they are using Ahmadreza Jalali's academic links to a European country as part of the 'evidence' against him," Luther added.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry said in an statement e-mailed to RFE/RL that it had received "credible reports" indicating that Jalali had been sentenced to death.

"We are seeking to obtain definitive confirmation of this information," the October 23 statement said. "We are urgently raising this issue with Iranian representatives."

Amnesty repeated its opposition to the death penalty "without exception" and "in any forms."

With reporting by Reuters
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