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Tuesday 12 December 2017

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A flyer from a protest in February outside the Iranian Embassy in Brussels for Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic detained in Tehran and sentenced to death for espionage. (file photo)

Amnesty International says Iran's Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence against an Iranian-Swedish academic who has been convicted of espionage.

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

He was detained in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage, which he denies.

Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a December 12 statement that the court's decision to uphold the death sentence was "not only a shocking assault on the right to a fair trial but is also in utter disregard for Ahmadreza Djalali's right to life."

Mughrabi called on the Iranian authorities to immediately quash the sentence and grant him a "meaningful appeal."

Amnesty said Djalali's lawyers were told on December 9 that the Supreme Court had upheld his October 24 death sentence.

The London-based rights watchdog said the verdict stated that Djalali worked with the Israeli government, which helped him obtain his Swedish residency permit.

Djalali 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.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
Turkmen animal rights activist Galina Kucherenko (right) and her daughter Valeria (file photo)

The daughter of a jailed Turkmen animal rights activist has brought her mother warm clothing, making the first visit permitted by the authorities since police stormed Galina Kucherenko's apartment and arrested her.

Human rights advocate Natalya Shabunts told RFE/RL that she and Kucherenko's daughter Valeria were allowed to visit the activist at a police detention center on the outskirts of Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat, on December 12.

Shabunts added that Valeria was allowed to hand warm clothes over to her mother, who was sentenced to 15 days in jail for what police said were "unsanitary conditions" caused by "an excessive number of pets" in her apartment.

Kucherenko had been held incommunicado since her arrest on December 7.

Shabunts and Human Rights Watch (HRW) said earlier that Kucherenko, 52, was detained along with Valeria after police raided their apartment in Ashgabat. Valeria was later released.

Rights activists say Kucherenko has received numerous threats from law enforcement officials in Ashgabat for her efforts to prevent what she says are mass killings of stray dogs and cats by the authorities in the Central Asian country.

On December 8, HRW said Turkmenistan's "international partners should urgently and publicly call on the Turkmen government to disclose Kucherenko's whereabouts and release her immediately."

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has ruled the former Soviet republic with an iron hand, tolerating little dissent since he came to power after the death of autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov in 2006.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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