Education International
Education International

Amnesty International calls for the release of Iranian academic

published 1 March 2017 updated 4 March 2022

With Ahmadreza Djalali facing the death penalty based on bogus charges of treason, Amnesty International has spearheaded a campaign to free the disaster medicine specialist who has been detained for nearly a year without trial.

Djalali, an Iranian national and resident of Sweden, who was arrested on the 25 April 2016 during a business trip in Iran, was, without his lawyer’s presence, accused of “espionage” by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on 31 January, , a charge that could result in the death penalty.

According to reports, he was not allowed visits from his lawyer until seven months after his arrest, and after that the prosecution authorities told his lawyer that he could not take up Djalali’s case and refused to share the court files with him. In December 2016, authorities put Djalali under intense pressure to sign a statement, “confessing” to being a spy for a “hostile government”. Confronted with his refusal, they said they would charge him with “enmity against God”, which carries the death penalty. In protest, he began a hunger strike on 26 December 2016, and his health has greatly deteriorated since. Authorities have yet to issue an indictment and schedule a trial.

A 45-year-old medical doctor, lecturer and researcher in disaster medicine, Djalali has taught in universities in Belgium, Italy and Sweden. While he had previously travelled to Iran without any problems at all, he was arrested without a warrant by Ministry of Intelligence officials while on a business trip to Iran, having been invited to attend workshops about disaster medicine at universities in Tehran and Shiraz. His family had no knowledge of his whereabouts until 10 days after his arrest, when he was allowed to call them briefly. He was held in an unknown location for a week before being transferred to the Evin prison, under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence.

Get involved

You can take action, before 21 March, by:

·         Calling on the authorities to release Ahmadreza Djalali unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence, in line with international law and standards, ensuring that he is not targeted for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly;

·         Urging them to ensure he has access to a qualified health professional who can provide health care in compliance with medical ethics, including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy and informed consent;

·         Calling on them to ensure that, pending his release, he is protected from any punishment for his hunger strike, including prolonged solitary confinement, which may amount to torture; and

·         Urging them to ensure that he has regular access to a lawyer of his choice and to his family, including facilities to communicate with those living abroad, and requesting them to grant Swedish consular access to him.

Click here for more information about the Amnesty International’s campaign.

The Belgian university VUB also issued an urgent call to free Ahmadreza Djalali.

You can follow Djalali’s case on Facebook and Twitter, and sign the petititon on Change.org.