Disaster medicine scholar sentenced to death in Iran

Posted October 23, 2017

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned by reports that Ahmadreza Djalali, a scholar of disaster medicine, has been sentenced to death in Iran.

Dr. Djalali is a permanent resident of Sweden, affiliated with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and the University of Eastern Piedmont in Novara, Italy. He was arrested in April 2016 while visiting Iran to participate in a series of academic workshops and subsequently detained in Evin Prison. On February 1, 2017, Dr. Djalali informed his sister that he had been forced to sign a confession relating to crimes against the national security of Iran and later threatened with the charge of “moharebeh” (enmity against God), which carries the death sentence. On October 21, 2017, it was announced that Iran’s revolutionary court had convicted Dr. Djalali to death on espionage-related charges. According to his wife, he has 20 days to appeal the sentence.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the sentencing of a scholar to death. International collaboration and the lawful, non-violent exchange of ideas are fundamental parts of academic life, and must not be the bases for capital punishment. In addition to the grave harm to the immediate victim and their family, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from sentencing scholars for exercising their internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and academic freedom. Scholars at Risk respectfully urges the Iranian authorities to reverse Dr. Djalali’s capital sentence immediately, to ensure his release from prison, and to drop all charges against him.