HomeWorld NewsEXPLAINER: Who's the Swedish doctor facing execution in Iran

EXPLAINER: Who’s the Swedish doctor facing execution in Iran

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Vida Mehrannia is making an attempt to save lots of her husband’s life. Iran is scheduled to place him to demise 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 drugs, a most demanding discipline. To Mehrannia, he’s a beloved husband.

“It’s a nightmare,” she advised The Related Press from Stockholm, the place she lives along 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 need 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 known as her Iranian counterpart final week and, together with the European Union, 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 because the collapse of Iran’s nuclear take care of world powers.

On Wednesday, Iran mentioned it detained two Europeans simply hours after the European Union envoy touched down within the capital in a last-ditch effort to save lots of the tattered atomic accord.

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

Here is 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 educating throughout the continent. When an Iranian college invited him to a workshop in April 2016, he did not 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 demise.

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 instances have coincided uneasily. Hamid Nouri is standing trial in Stockholm for conflict crimes and homicide dedicated in the course of the Iran-Iraq conflict — a battle that ended greater than 1 / 4 century in the past and haunts Tehran to at the present time.


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

Iran denies any hyperlink between the contentious trial and Jalali’s demise sentence — declared to be imminent final week because the Swedish courtroom proceedings grabbed worldwide headlines. Iran’s judiciary spokesman on Tuesday declared Jalali’s verdict remaining. His household believes the instances 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 establish themselves. Those that responded “mujahedeen” had been despatched to their deaths, in accordance with a 1990 Amnesty Worldwide report. Worldwide rights teams estimate that as many as 5,000 folks had 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 advised the Swedish courtroom that Nouri, a former Iranian judiciary official, handed down demise sentences, guided convicts to chambers the place they had been executed and helped prosecutors collect the names of these sympathetic to the mujahedeen. Nouri denies involvement.

The decision is predicted 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 International Ministry confirmed final week.


4 a long time in the past, younger Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. Embassy and took 52 People hostage for 444 days. They had 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,” mentioned Ray Takeyh, an Iran professional on the Council on International 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 acquire 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 had been returned residence after the U.Ok. settled a decades-old debt to Iran.

Immediately there are a minimum of 4 People, two Germans, two Austrians and two French residents recognized 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 without doubt one of the world’s main executioners. In March, the U.N. particular rapporteur for Iran advised 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, nonetheless, stays extraordinarily uncommon. Iran is just not publicly recognized to have executed a foreigner within the final 20 years.

Twin nationals going through the demise penalty in recent times, resembling Iranian-Canadian Hamid Ghasemi or Iranian-American Amir Hekmati, have had their sentences commuted.

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

Disadvantaged of sleep below brilliant lights, he waits for the day he can be taken away to be killed.

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

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

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