Iranian-born Swedish resident, expert in emergency disaster medicine
Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-born Swedish resident and expert in emergency disaster medicine, was arrested on April 24, 2016 in Tehran by agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. Djalali was visiting Tehran from Sweden, where he lives with his wife and two children, at the official invitation of Tehran University.
On January 5, 2016, after keeping silent for several months, Djalali’s wife, Vida Mehrannia, publicly revealed that her husband was imprisoned in Iran. According to Vida, “Ahmadreza had always traveled to Iran by invitation of state organizations, including the Red Crescent, and never experienced problems before.” The family had remained quiet after his arrest because they hoped there was some “mistake or misunderstanding, and that he would be acquitted and released.” Yet, Djalali has been jailed in Evin Prison without trial since his arrest on bogus charges of “collaborating with enemy states.”
Dr. Djalali is a scientist at the Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIN) run by the University of Eastern Piedmont in Novara, Italy and a professor at the Free University Brussels (VUB). His work has been described by his colleague, Caroline Pauwels, rector of the Free University in Berlin, as “Important humanitarian work.” Dr. Djalali has a PhD in medical science (disaster medicine) from Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He has published 46 scientific articles in in journals across the world. Some of his previous work included collaboration with Tehran University and Shiraz University, and the Natural Disaster Medicine Institute in Iran.
Treatment in Prison
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “Djalali was held in solitary confinement at Evin Prison’s Ward 209, which is controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence, and interrogated for seven months before being transferred to the public Ward 7.” His wife added, “For seven months, he was denied access to a lawyer. After he was transferred to a public ward, he was permitted legal counsel, but his lawyer told us he cannot talk about the case because it involves national security.” On December 25, 2016, when his interrogators threatened him with a harsh sentence, Djalali began a hunger strike. According to his wife, “he says that if they are going to execute him he prefers to die under hunger strike.” Djalali is experiencing severe health issues after losing 18 kilograms from his hunger strike.
On February 3, 2017, Ahmadreza’s employer, Free University Brussels (VUB), announced that he had been sentenced to death and that the execution is scheduled to take place in two weeks. Ahmadreza informed his family in Iran that he was forced to sign a confession, which became the basis for his death sentence. According to VUB, the charges appeared to be related to Djalali’s international contacts. The University program draws students and professors from around the world, including countries such as the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Djalali reportedly was convicted of “working with enemy states.”
Calls for Release
A petition calling for his release and signed by over 100,000 supporters has been sent to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif.