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Iranian TV Broadcasts Purported Confession Of Iranian-Swedish Academic Sentenced To Death

Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali, who has been sentenced death, is shown during a court appearance.

Iranian state TV has aired what it calls a confession by an Iranian-Swedish academic who has been sentenced to death on espionage charges.

In the December 17 broadcast, Ahmadreza Djalali, a researcher at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, admits to supplying information to a foreign intelligence service about Iranian nuclear scientists who were later assassinated.

Djalali, 46, was arrested in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage. He previously has denied the charges.

In the 17-minute broadcast, Djalali said a man he identified as "Thomas" had approached him with a job offer while he was doing research in an unnamed European country.

He said the man later recruited him to that country's foreign intelligence service, adding that the man had promised he would receive citizenship in the country.

On December 12, Amnesty International, the London-based rights watchdog, said the verdict stated that Djalali had worked with the Israeli government.

A narrator in the broadcast says Djalali gathered information for Israel's Mossad on physics scientists Masoud Ali Mohammadi and nuclear scientist Majid Shariari, both of whom were assassinated in 2010. He adds that Djalali met with the alleged Israeli agents more than 50 times, receiving 2,000 euros on each occasion.

Iranian authorities said it was part of an Israeli attempt to sabotage its nuclear-energy program.

Djalali said he had also worked for the Iranian Defense Ministry, and that the foreign intelligence officers he worked for had threatened to expose his foreign activities if he did not continue to cooperate with them.

After Iran’s Supreme Court this month upheld the death sentenced against Djalali, Amnesty International said on December 12 that the court's decision was "not only a shocking assault on the right to a fair trial but was also in utter disregard for Ahmadreza Djalali’s right to life."

Following the October 24 original verdict, Sweden assailed 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.

Other rights groups have also condemned Djalali's arrest, saying it follows a pattern of Iran detaining dual nationals and expatriates without due process.

According to Nature magazine, Djalali works on improving hospitals’ emergency responses to armed terrorism and radiological, chemical, and biological threats. Media reports said he was an Iranian citizen with permanent Swedish residency.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and the BBC
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