Iran Confirms Upholding Death Sentence for Academic Over Spying

December 26, 2017 Updated: December 26, 2017    

DUBAI–Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence against a Sweden-based Iranian academic who it convicted of spying for Israel, the Tehran prosecutor was quoted as saying on Monday, confirming reports by Amnesty International and his family.

Ahmadreza Djalali, a medical doctor and researcher in disaster relief, was accused by the Iranian authorities of providing information to Israel to help it assassinate several senior nuclear scientists.

Djalali was arrested while in Iran on a business trip in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage. He has denied the charges, Amnesty said in what it called a “grossly unfair trial.”

At least four scientists were killed between 2010 and 2012 in what Tehran said were assassinations meant to sabotage its efforts to develop nuclear energy. Western powers and Israel said Iran aimed to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran denied this.

The Islamic Republic hanged a man in 2012 over the killings, saying he was an agent for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

On Monday, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the Supreme Court recently upheld the death sentence against Djalali, the news site of Iran’s judiciary, Mizan, reported.

Dolatabadi said Djalali had confessed to meeting Mossad agents repeatedly to deliver information on Iran’s nuclear and defense plans and personnel, and helping to infect Defense Ministry computer systems with viruses, Mizan reported.

London-based Amnesty International and Djalali’s wife said earlier this month that his lawyers were told that the Supreme Court had considered his case and upheld his death sentence.

Iranian state television broadcast last week what it described as Djalali’s confessions. His wife said he had been forced by his interrogators to read the confession.

Djalali was on a business trip to Iran when he was arrested and sent to Evin prison. He was held in solitary confinement for three months of his detention and tortured, Amnesty said.

It said Djalali wrote a letter inside prison in August stating he was being held for refusing to spy for Iran.

Sweden condemned the sentence in October and said it had raised the matter with Iranian envoys.

Seventy-five Nobel prize laureates petitioned Iranian authorities last month to release Djalali so he could “continue his scholarly work for the benefit of mankind.”

According to Ole Petter Ottersen, Vice-Chancellor of the Karolinska Institutet where Djalali obtained his PhD, Djalali “has worked with researchers from all over the world to improve the capacity of hospitals in countries suffering from extreme poverty or affected by disasters and armed conflicts.”

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