Iran sentences scientist to death for espionage, collaboration with Israel

An Iranian scientist, sentenced to death for alleged espionage and contact with Israelis, is scheduled to be executed in two weeks. 

An Iranian scientist has received a death sentence in the Islamic Republic for the crime of espionage, according to a report in The Guardian.

The 45-year old scientist, Ahmadreza Djalali, a husband and a father of two children, ages 5 and 14, works as a medical professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), a Dutch-speaking university in Brussels, Belgium. He was arrested by Iranian authorities on April 25 of last year, while visiting his family.

Djalali’s arrest had reportedly been kept under the radar by friends and family members for the last nine months so as to prevent any possibility of making matters worse for him.

VUB said that Djalali received his death sentence, scheduled to take place in two weeks, despite not having received the right to a trial or even a lawyer. The university added that he was kept in isolation for seven months between the time of his arrest and sentencing, and referenced a report stating that he was forced to sign his confession.

VUB rector Caroline Pauwels expressed outrage. “A scientist performing important humanitarian work gets sentenced without public trial and is looking at the death penalty,” she said. “This is an outrageous violation of universal human rights, against which we should react decisively.”

A petition to the Iranian government has already been posted on Change.org, titled, “Urgent: Justice and Freedom for Ahmadreza Djalali, MD, EMDM, Phd.

The petition notes that Djalali’s medical condition is in jeopardy, as he is on his fourth hunger strike.

“During those months, he could only call his family for 2 minutes every 2 weeks. When he was in section 209, he started a hunger strike three times, and each lasted for a week. He started another hunger strike again from 26th of December, 2016 which he is currently continuing. The hunger strike is becoming a big health issue for him, he has pain in his kidneys and has very low blood pressure…..He initially weighed 82 kg, and now he weighs 64 kg.”

The petition also sheds ight into the personal toll taken by Djalali’s family.

“His 5 year old child asks the mother daily where his father is, and why he isn´t coming home. It is very hard to explain the kid why he hasn´t seen his dad in the past 9 months. We want Ahmadreza to come back to the scientific community, and to his family and friends. He is a loving father, and his children miss him everyday and want him to come back home. We respectfully ask the Iranian Authorities, to let Ahmadreza come back home to his children, and to his family.”

The petition also rejects the accusations by Iranian government that Djalali had collaborated with colleagues from enemy states, including Israel.

“Ahmadreza has always been proud to be Iranian and would never do anything against his country and the people of Iran,” the petition states.

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News