Who is the Swedish doctor facing execution in Iran

DUBAI, – Vida Mehrania tries to save her husband’s life. is scheduled to kill him within nine days – by May 21.

For Iran, 50-year-old Ahmad Reza Jalali is a spy for . To his colleagues, he is a respected doctor specializing in emergency medicine, a very demanding field. To Mehrunnia, he is a beloved husband.

“It’s a nightmare,” she told The from Stockholm, where she lives with her 10-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter who have not seen their father in the six years since he was arrested. “They want to sacrifice my husband.”

Mehrunnia raises her fading hopes for Jalali’s Swedish citizenship and Stockholm’s attempt to push for his release. The extent of these efforts is unclear, although the Swedish called her Iranian counterpart last week and, together with the EU, expressed categorical opposition to the death penalty and demanded the release of Jalali.

But it seems that Jalali’s own ties to Sweden are what made him end up in an Iranian prison.

In Iran, some foreigners are pawns, both in Tehran’s internal political rivalries and in the tensions between Tehran and Western capitals, analysts say. A pattern of Westerners being picked up has become increasingly visible since the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

On Wednesday, Iran said it arrested two unidentified Europeans just hours after the EU envoy landed in the capital in a final attempt to save the broken nuclear deal.

Iran has imprisoned at least a dozen dual citizens in recent years. Most of them are being held for publicly disputed charges of .

Here’s a look at the forces at Jalali’s case.

How did it start?

Jalali was born in the northwestern city of Iran, Tabriz. He built a successful career in and Sweden, published over 40 articles in medical journals and taught across the continent. When an Iranian university invited him to a workshop in April 2016, he did not think twice about participating.

He never saw his family again.

Security services scooped him up, accused him of leaking details about Iranian nuclear scientists believed to have been killed by Mossad, and took him to Iran’s infamous Evin prison, where he was sentenced to death.

At the same time, a milestone in Sweden for holding a former Iranian official has been accused of having committed atrocities in Tehran.

The two cases have anxiously coincided. Hamid Nouri is on trial in Stockholm for war crimes and murders committed during the Iran- war – a conflict that ended more than a quarter of a century ago and which still haunts Tehran today.

What is happening between Iran and Sweden?

For the first time, several Iranians who survived mass executions at the end of the Iran-Iraq war have taken a stand in a Swedish court.

Iran denies any connection between the disputed trial and Jalali’s death sentence – which was declared imminent last week when the Swedish court proceedings received international headlines. Iran’s spokesman for the judiciary declared on Tuesday that Jalali’s verdict was final. His family believes the cases have a connection.

The accusations in Sweden go back to 1988, after Iran’s then supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a UN-mediated ceasefire. Members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, heavily armed by Saddam Hussein, stormed across the Iranian border from Iraq in a surprise attack. Iran blunted their attack.

The false trials against political prisoners began around the time when defendants were asked to identify themselves. Those who responded to the “mujahedin” were sent to their deaths, according to a 1990 report. International rights groups estimate that as many as 5,000 people were executed.

Iran has tried to bury this dark chapter in history. But now the sensitive memories are brought to light. Former prisoners have told the Swedish court that Nouri, a former Iranian official in the judiciary, sentenced to death, guided convicts to chambers where they were executed and helped prosecutors collect the names of those who sympathized with the mujahedin. Nouri denies involvement.

The verdict is expected in July and if convicted, 61-year-old Nouri could face life in prison. The case resonates in Tehran, where the hardline former head of the judiciary, , served on the commissions that issued execution orders.

Iran is outraged and condemns the procedure as “an unfair and illegal deportation trial”.

Iranian authorities have since arrested another Swedish citizen, a tourist traveling in the country, the Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed last week.

Why does Iran imprison foreigners?

Four decades ago, young Iranian revolutionaries stormed the US embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. They were released in 1981, but Iran’s policy of taking hostages never ended, analysts say.

“It’s ebbing and flowing, but this has been a notorious page in the Islamic Republic’s playbook since 1979,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iranian expert on the Council on Foreign Relations. “Iran usually imprisones foreign nationals as a means of obtaining leverage or something else from the other country.”

The tactics have burst out to the public when prisoner exchanges have an impact. When Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers entered into force in 2016, four American prisoners flew home from Iran. On the same day, the Obama administration air-transported Iran $ 400 million in cash.

More recently this spring, two British citizens who had been imprisoned in Iran for more than five years returned home after Britain paid a decades-old debt to Iran.

Today, at least four Americans, two Germans, two Austrians and two French citizens are known to be imprisoned in Iran.

A UN panel describes their imprisonment as part of “an emerging pattern involving the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of dual citizens.”

What is Iran’s history of executing prisoners?

Iran is one of the world’s leading executioners. In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran told the Human Rights Council that the number of executions in Iran had increased to 280 last year, including at least three minors.

However, the execution of foreigners is still extremely rare. Iran is not publicly known for having executed a foreigner in the last two decades.

Dual citizens who have been sentenced to death in recent years, such as Iranian-Canadian Hamid Ghasemi or Iranian-American Amir Hekmati, have had their sentences commuted.

Last year, UN rights experts warned that Jalali was facing difficult conditions and was “approaching death” because his health was rapidly deteriorating in solitary confinement. His conviction, the UN says, stems from a confession obtained under torture following an unfair trial.

Deprived of sleep in bright light, he waits for the day he will be removed to be killed.

It’s a horror that his family says they share, even 3,000 miles away.

“It’s torture … It’s completely taken over our lives,” Mehrunnia said. “We suffer for the policies of other countries.”

    Source: sn.dk

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