Save Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali after more than seven years of imprisonment

Posted November 2, 2023

Scholars at Risk sent the below letter to Swedish and Belgian authorities again, urging them to do everything in their power to secure the immediate release of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali. Take action by signing a letter here.

Via email

The Honorable Ulf Kristersson
Prime Minister of Sweden

The Honorable Alexander De Croo
Prime Minister of Belgium

November 2, 2023

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

Your Excellencies:

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 and lecturer at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, who has been wrongfully sentenced to death in Iran.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of more than 600 universities and colleges in over 40 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.

It has been more than seven years since Dr. Djalali was arbitrarily arrested by Iranian authorities.[1] Dr. Djalali has endured over 2,700 days in Evin Prison under cruel and inhumane conditions, including torture and continuous threats of imminent execution. SAR understands from Dr. Djalali’s wife that, due to a pattern of limited communication and threats of execution 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.[2] 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.[3] This idea has been further reinforced by the recent US-Iran prisoner swap.[4]

SAR appreciates Sweden’s and Belgium’s stated commitments 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 as soon as possible. The past seven years have been treacherous 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 James Cleverly
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] 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] UN Human Rights Council, “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,”; UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
[4] Bernd Debusmann Jr, “Five Americans freed in Iran prisoner swap land in US,” BBC, September 19, 2023,