Save Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali after seven years of imprisonment

Posted April 26, 2023

Scholars at Risk sent the below letter to Swedish and Belgian authorities, urging them to do everything in their power to secure the immediate release of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali. Today marks seven years of Dr. Djalali’s wrongful imprisonment.

Via email

The Honorable Ulf Kristersson
Prime Minister of Sweden

The Honorable Alexander De Croo
Prime Minister of Belgium

April 26, 2023

RE: Save Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali after seven years of imprisonment

Your Excellency:

I write again on behalf of Scholars at Risk to respectfully urge you to do everything in your power to secure the immediate release of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish scholar of disaster medicine wrongfully sentenced to death in Iran, before it is too late.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of more than 600 universities and colleges in 42 countries dedicated to protecting the human rights of scholars around the world, and to raising awareness, understanding of, and respect for the principles of academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of expression, opinion, thought, association, and travel.

Today marks seven years since Dr. Djalali was arbitrarily arrested[1] by Iranian authorities. Dr. Djalali has endured over 2,550 days in Evin Prison under cruel and inhumane conditions, including torture and continuous threats of imminent execution. After the execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari in January,[2] who was also sentenced to death, SAR is especially concerned for Dr. Djalali. Moreover, SAR understands from Dr. Djalali’s wife, Vida Mehrannia, that, due to a pattern of limited communication by Iranian authorities, she fears Iran may execute Dr. Djalali without warning.

As you know, Iran has a long history of detaining dual and foreign nationals and using them as leverage.[3] Human rights organizations have raised concerns that Dr. Djalali is being held hostage to compel third parties to swap him for former Iranian officials convicted or facing prosecution abroad and deter them from prosecuting other Iranian officials.[4]

SAR appreciates Sweden and Belgium’s stated commitment to support Dr. Djalali; however, we cannot overly stress the urgent need to do everything in your power to prevent Dr. Djalali’s execution and secure his release and safe return to Sweden. The past seven years have been torturous for Dr. Djalali and his family and they shouldn’t have to endure this nightmare any longer. SAR respectfully urges you to act now.

We thank you for your attention to this life-and-death matter and look forward to your reply.

Robert Quinn
Executive Director


The Honorable Tobias Billström
Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Government of Sweden

The Honorable Hadja Lahbib
Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade, and the Federal Cultural Institutions
Kingdom of Belgium

The Honorable Roberta Metsola
President of the European Parliament

The Honorable Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Commission

The Honorable Josep Borrell Fontelles
High Representative/Vice President
European Commission

The Honorable Charles Michel
President of the European Council

The Honorable Annalena Baerbock
Federal Foreign Minister
German Federal Foreign Office

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken
United States Secretary of State

The Honorable Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs
United Kingdom

The Honorable Antonio Tajani
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Italian Government

The Honorable António Guterres
Secretary-General of the United Nations
The Honorable Volker Türk
High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Honorable Javaid Rehman
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

[1] UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, “Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention at its eightieth session, 20–24 November 2017,” December 20, 2017,
[2] Emily McGarvey and Aoife Walsh, “Alireza Akbari: Iran executes British-Iranian dual national,” BBC, January 14, 2023,
[3] UN Human Rights Council, “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,”; UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.