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EXPLAINER: Who’s the Swedish physician dealing with execution in Iran


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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Vida Mehrannia is attempting to avoid wasting her husband’s life. Iran is scheduled to place him to loss of life inside 9 days — by Might 21.

To Iran, the 50-year-old Ahmad Reza Jalali is a spy for Israel. To his colleagues, he’s a revered doctor specialised in catastrophe medication, a most demanding subject. To Mehrannia, he’s a beloved husband.

“It’s a nightmare,” she instructed The Related Press from Stockholm, the place she lives together with her 10-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter who haven’t seen their father within the six years since his arrest. “They wish to sacrifice my husband.”

Mehrannia pins her fading hopes on Jalali’s Swedish citizenship and Stockholm’s makes an attempt to push for his launch. The extent of these efforts is unclear, although the Swedish overseas minister referred to as her Iranian counterpart final week and, together with the European Union, expressed categorial opposition to the loss of life penalty and demanded Jalali be launched.

However it seems that Jalali’s very ties to Sweden are what landed him in an Iranian jail.

In Iran, some foreigners are pawns, each in Tehran’s inside political rivalries and in tensions between Tehran and Western capitals, analysts say. A sample of Westerners being picked up has grown more and more seen for the reason that collapse of Iran’s nuclear cope with world powers.

On Wednesday, Iran stated it detained two unidentified Europeans simply hours after the European Union envoy touched down within the capital in a last-ditch effort to avoid wasting the tattered atomic accord.

Iran has imprisoned a minimum of a dozen twin nationals lately. Most of them are held on extensively disputed spying fees.

Right here’s a have a look at the forces at play in Jalali’s case.

Jalali was born in Iran’s northwestern city of Tabriz. He constructed a profitable profession in Italy and Sweden, publishing over 40 articles in medical journals and instructing throughout the continent. When an Iranian college invited him to a workshop in April 2016, he didn’t assume twice about attending.

He by no means noticed his household once more.

Safety providers scooped him up, accused him of leaking particulars about Iranian nuclear scientists believed to have been killed by the Mossad and whisked him to Iran’s infamous Evin Jail the place he was sentenced to loss of life.

In the meantime, a landmark quest in Sweden to carry accountable a former Iranian official accused of committing atrocities has kindled outrage again in Tehran.

The 2 circumstances have coincided uneasily. Hamid Nouri is standing trial in Stockholm for warfare crimes and homicide dedicated in the course of the Iran-Iraq warfare — a battle that ended greater than 1 / 4 century in the past and haunts Tehran to today.


For the primary time, a number of Iranians who survived mass executions on the finish of the Iran-Iraq warfare have taken the stand in a Swedish court docket.

Iran denies any hyperlink between the contentious trial and Jalali’s loss of life sentence — declared to be imminent final week because the Swedish court docket proceedings grabbed worldwide headlines. Iran’s judiciary spokesman on Tuesday declared Jalali’s verdict last. His household believes the circumstances are linked.

The allegations in Sweden date again to 1988, after Iran’s then-Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. Members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, closely armed by Saddam Hussein, stormed throughout the Iranian border from Iraq in a shock assault. Iran blunted their assault.

The sham trials of political prisoners started round that point, with defendants requested to determine themselves. Those that responded “mujahedeen” have been despatched to their deaths, based on a 1990 Amnesty Worldwide report. Worldwide rights teams estimate that as many as 5,000 folks have been executed.

Iran has sought to bury this darkish chapter of historical past. However now the delicate reminiscences are being dragged to gentle. Former prisoners have instructed the Swedish court docket that Nouri, a former Iranian judiciary official, handed down loss of life sentences, guided convicts to chambers the place they have been executed and helped prosecutors collect the names of these sympathetic to the mujahedeen. Nouri denies involvement.

The decision is anticipated in July and, if discovered responsible, the 61-year-old Nouri might face a life sentence. The case reverberates in Tehran, the place the hard-line former judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi served on the commissions that issued execution orders.

Iran is outraged, condemning the proceedings as “an unjust and unlawful present trial.”

Iranian authorities have since detained one other Swedish citizen, a vacationer touring within the nation, Sweden’s Overseas Ministry confirmed final week.


4 many years in the past, younger Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. Embassy and took 52 Individuals hostage for 444 days. They have been launched in 1981, however Iran’s coverage of hostage-taking by no means ended, analysts say.

“It ebbs and flows, however this has been a infamous web page within the Islamic Republic’s playbook since 1979,” stated Ray Takeyh, an Iran professional on the Council on Overseas Relations. “Iran often detains overseas nationals as a way of getting leverage or one thing else from that different nation.”

The tactic has burst into public view as prisoner swaps achieve traction. When Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers took impact in 2016, 4 American captives flew residence from Iran. That very same day, the Obama administration airlifted Iran $400 million in money.

Extra just lately this spring, two British residents who had been jailed in Iran for greater than 5 years have been returned residence after the U.Ok. settled a decades-old debt to Iran.

At this time there are a minimum of 4 Individuals, two Germans, two Austrians and two French residents identified to be detained in Iran.

A United Nations panel describes their incarceration as a part of “an rising sample involving the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of twin nationals.”


Iran is among the world’s main executioners. In March, the U.N. particular rapporteur for Iran instructed the Human Rights Council that Iran’s execution depend had surged to 280 final yr, together with a minimum of three minors.

The execution of foreigners, nevertheless, stays extraordinarily uncommon. Iran just isn’t publicly identified to have executed a foreigner within the final 20 years.

Twin nationals dealing with the loss of life penalty lately, resembling Iranian-Canadian Hamid Ghasemi or Iranian-American Amir Hekmati, have had their sentences commuted.

Final yr, U.N. rights consultants warned that Jalali confronted harsh situations and was “nearing loss of life” as his well being quickly deteriorated in solitary confinement. His conviction, the U.N. says, stems from a confession extracted underneath torture after an unfair trial.

Disadvantaged of sleep underneath vibrant lights, he waits for the day he might be taken away to be killed.

It’s a terror his household says they share, even 3,000 miles away.

“It’s torture. … It has fully taken over our lives,” Mehrannia stated. “For the politics of different international locations, we’re struggling.”


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