An Urgent Appeal for Doctor Ahmadreza Djalali
H. E. Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,
Vice-President of the European Commission
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200 – 1049 Brussels
Dear HR/VP Federica Mogherini,
We are writing to you to express our deep concern for Ahmadreza Djalali’s case.
We learnt that the Supreme Court Branch 33, in Qom City, has rejected to review Dr. Djalali’s case. Dr. Djalali is at grave risk of execution. He is in a terrible physical condition and he is getting weaker and thinner every day. Dr. Djalali is currently held at Evin Prison and rejects all the accusations, and he also denied all the accusations the Ministry of Intelligence made against him through a documentary broadcasted on state-run tv.
Dr. Djalali is affiliated with Sweden’s Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Italy’s University of Eastern Piedmont in Novara, where he carried out research on improving hospitals’ emergency responses to armed terrorism and radiological, chemical and biological threats. He is internationally esteemed and regularly collaborates with leading European research institutes. Dr. Djalali´s contribution is undeniable in this field of research. His innovative research has been conducted in multicultural environments and in collaboration with colleagues and institutions worldwide, from Eastern to Western Countries. His studies have led to the publication of more than forty scientific papers with the purpose of improving the emergency response not only in his own Country, Iran, but also in Europe.
Dr. Djalali was arrested in Iran in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage, with no material evidence provided, following a secret and hasty process led by Iran’s revolutionary court and without allowing any defence submission. On 21 October he was sentenced to death.
According to reports by the international scientific weekly journal Nature (23 October 2017), a source close to Djalali revealed, through a document that claims to be a literal transcription of a handwritten text produced by Djalali inside Evin prison, that in 2014 he was approached by agents of the Iranian military intelligence that asked him to collect information on Western chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear sites, as well as on critical infrastructures and counter-terrorism operational plans. The document states that Djalali believes he was arrested for refusing to spy for the Iranian intelligence service.
Djalali’s story echoes those of other Iranian scientists: Omid Kokabee, a physicist released from a Tehran jail in August 2016 after five years’ imprisonment, who says he believes he was punished for refusing to help a covert nuclear-weapons program and Hamid Babaei, who was undertaking a PhD in finance in Belgium but is now serving a six-year prison sentence in Iran and said he was arrested for refusing to spy on his colleagues.
We, the signatories of this appeal, consider the above mentioned issue – in view of the ever growing number of Iranian researchers in Europe, following the bilateral agreements between Iran and European universities, mostly in the field of science and technology – a serious attack against the fundamental rights and freedoms, in particular against the academic mobility and its security. We believe that EU should be at the forefront of international efforts to ask Iranian authorities a fair trial for Dr. Djalai – in accordance with the international conventions and treaties, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party – given that, in addition to the importance to protect the right of a fair trial, only a due process which respects all legal standards is able to establish Dr Djalali’s possible liability and fault and, in case of his innocence is proved, to warn against potential European security issues.
We ask, therefore, EU to take urgent action and make all diplomatic efforts in order to obtain an immediate suspension of the death sentence and to ensure him access to appropriate medical care.
Thank you for your attention and response.
FIDU – Federazione Italiana Diritti Umani
Nessuno Tocchi Caino
ECPM – Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort
Iran Human Rights
This appeal is also supported by:
Sen. Elena Cattaneo
Sen. Luigi Manconi
Sen. Elena Ferrara
Sen. Francesco Palermo
Sen. Paolo Corsini
Sen. Sergio Lo Giudice
Sen. Luis Alberto Orellana
Sen. Lorenzo Battista
Sen. Erica D’Adda
Sen. Francesco Scalia
Sen. Stefania Pezzopane
Sen. Silvio Lai
Sen. Laura Puppato
Sen. Vannino Chiti
Hon. Pia Locatelli
Hon. Roberto Rampi
Prof. Francesco Della Corte, CRIMEDIM Director – Università del Piemonte Orientale
Prof. Ole Petter Ottersen, Vice-Chancellor at Karolinska Institutet
Who is Ahmadreza Djalali?
Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali is a 46-year-old Iranian citizen who resides in Sweden. He is a medical doctor and lecturer at the, Karolinkska Institute in Stockholm, and a research associate in disaster medicine at CRIMEDIM in Novara, as well as at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels. He carried out research on emergency medicine aimed at improving the capacity of hospitals in countries suffering from extreme poverty or affected by disasters and armed conflicts. As evidenced by the numerous colleagues’ appeals, his scientific activity has been brilliant and has led to many scientific publications of the greatest interest internationally.
The arrest and the pre-trial detention
In April 2016, Dr. Djalali was in Iran teaching a class on Disaster Medicine for a Master’s Degree program at the invitation of the University of Tehran. He had been there numerous times in the past without any problem. On April 24th, while driving to Karaj, he was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents, accused of “working with hostile governments”. His wife said that that after his arrest he was kept in total isolation for three months. This was followed by partial isolation in Evin Prison. During his long imprisonment, Dr. Djalali has been denied a lawyer of his choosing, subjected to psychological torture and intense interrogations. Besides, he told his family that, on two occasions, he was forced, under heavy psychological pressure, to make confessions in front of a camera by reading out statements pre-written by his interrogators. According to his wife, both his physical and mental health have sharply deteriorated since he has been detained.
The unfair trial and the death sentence
On October 21, Dr. Djalali was sentenced to death following a closed trial that did not meet the minimum international standards of justice. He was convicted in a revolutionary court on espionage charges, specifically spying on Iran for Israel, which he firmly denied. In protest against the decision of the court, Dr. Djalali has conducted a long hunger strike.
A global mobilization
Since Dr. Djalali’s detention became public, many appeals have been submitted to both Iranian and European Institutions by NGOs, politicians, and scientific organizations. They include:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists
Scholars at Risk
The European Universities Association http://www.eua.be/Libraries/publications-homepage-list/eua-letter-re-a-djalali
75 Nobel laureates
Sign here the petition!
The Italian Federation for Human Rights unconditionally opposes the death penalty. In this specific case, consider the detention of Dr. Djalali a flagrant violation of fundamental rights and academic freedom. In view of the above mentioned information, the Italian Federation for Human Rights asks the Iranian government to urgently set aside the death sentence and ensure that all fundamental rights, in accordance with the international conventions and treaties, will be respected, to assure his physical safety while in detention and to guarantee the right to effective judicial protection.
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