Ahmadreza Djalali, Iran

Posted April 24, 2019

Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali is a scholar of disaster medicine who has been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. Dr. Djalali is an Iranian-born resident of Sweden, who teaches at universities in Italy and Belgium, and whose work involves frequent international scientific collaboration. Since his arrest in April 2016, Dr. Djalali has been refused medical care despite his rapidly deteriorating health. On May 4, 2022, it was reported that Iranian authorities are preparing to carry out Dr. Djalali’s execution on May 21. Read more.

 Case Information

While visiting Iran in April 2016 to participate in a series of workshops hosted by universities in Tehran and Shiraz, authorities arrested Dr. Djalali for “collaboration with hostile governments” and “acting against national security.” Dr. Djalali was subsequently detained in Evin Prison and intermittently held in solitary confinement.On October 21, 2017, Dr. Djalali was convicted and sentenced to death on a charge of “corruption on earth” (ifsad fil-arz). The charge reportedly relates to allegations that Dr. Djalali had provided intelligence to the Israeli authorities. The government has disclosed no evidentiary basis for these allegations, and Dr. Djalali has disputed them, asserting that his ties to the international academic community are the bases of his prosecution.

SAR understands that, despite his clear intention to do so, Dr. Djalali was stripped of the right to appeal the decision against him. Specifically, as is normal practice, Dr. Djalali’s lawyers contacted the Supreme Court following his conviction to learn which branch of the court would be hearing the case and receiving any appellate filings. They were repeatedly informed that the case had not yet been assigned to a branch, and that they should await further instruction. On December 9, 2017, however, his lawyers learned that the Supreme Court summarily affirmed Dr. Djalali’s sentence, without allowing any submissions. On February 5, 2018, one of Dr. Djalali’s lawyers reported that the Qom branch of Iran’s Supreme Court denied his request to review the case and that the death sentence can be carried out at any time. Dr. Djalali’s lawyers are attempting to transfer the case to another branch for review.

After being denied medical care several times, on November 19, 2018, Dr. Djalali had an urgent operation on a clutched inguinal hernia. Following the operation, Dr. Djalali was immediately transferred back to Evin Prison and was visited by a specialist who conducted a series of blood tests. Dr. Djalali was informed that his bone marrow cells have severely weakened, indicating a high possibility of leukemia. On the recommendation of the Evin Prison doctor, Dr. Djalali was scheduled to see a blood and cancer specialist at a hospital on February 5; however, prison authorities prevented him from going.

On July 29, 2019, Dr. Djalali was reportedly blindfolded and transferred from his cell in Evin Prison to an isolated cell in an undisclosed location. There, Dr. Djalali was allegedly subjected to torture and threatened with the execution of the death sentence issued against him in order to force confessions from him. Dr. Djalali has since been returned to Evin Prison.

On November 24, 2020, SAR learned that Iranian authorities put Dr. Djalali in solitary confinement with preparations to carry out his death sentence. On December 1, SAR learned that Iranian authorities were preparing to transfer Dr. Djalali to Rajai Shahr Prison, where his death sentence would be carried out shortly thereafter. According to Amnesty International, Dr. Djalali was to be transferred to the Karaj-based prison in the late afternoon, local time, on December 1. According to the rights group, Dr. Djalali was barred from seeing his family and lawyer at the order of state authorities. This raises concerns that authorities may carry out his execution in secret. However, Dr. Djalali’s lawyer has reportedly been informed by the judge that he will be allowed to see family one last time before the death sentence is carried out. On December 2, it was reported by The Guardian that authorities postponed the execution of the death sentence and have not transferred Dr. Djalali to Rajai Shahr Prison.

On February 19, 2021, SAR learned from Dr. Djalali’s wife that since Dr. Djalali was put in solitary confinement at the end of November, Dr. Djalali has lost 8-9 kg (17-20 lbs), is suffering from stomach pain, has difficulty breathing, and has a resting heartbeat as low as 40 beats per minute.

On April 14, 2021, authorities transferred Dr. Djalali from solitary confinement to a multiple-occupancy cell. Dr. Djalali reportedly lost 12kg (26 lbs) over the 141 days he spent in solitary confinement.

On January 22, 2022, Dr. Djalali was reportedly transported to a hospital outside of Evin Prison to undergo surgery for an acute intestinal adhesion. Iranian authorities transferred him back to Evin Prison the day after the procedure, denying him the ability to properly recover in the hospital.

Generally, Dr. Djalali is still being denied access to his lawyer and his family in Iran, calls to his wife and children in Sweden, and the medical care that he urgently needs. His family is concerned about his physical and mental condition.

On May 4, 2022, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported that Dr. Djalali will be executed on May 21.

On November 2, 2023, SAR sent a letter of action to Swedish and Belgian authorities again, urging them to do everything in their power to secure the immediate release of Dr. Djalali. Read the letter here.

A scholar at risk; Dr Djalali on death row in Iran from Valerie Peay on Vimeo.

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In Action Types: Scholars in Prison Project