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Startseite Urgent Actions 2017 02 Iranian academic could be sentenced to death Jailed academic needs urgent medical care
FI 038/17-3
Abgeschlossen am 27. Juni 2019

Jailed academic needs urgent medical care

AI-Index: MDE 13/0359/2019

Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali needs urgent specialized medical care unavailable inside prison. The Iranian authorities previously conditioned his transfer to a hospital outside of prison on being shackled, which would amount to degrading treatment. He was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial, which used «confessions» Ahmadreza Djalali has said were obtained under torture.


Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish academic living in Sweden, was on a business trip to Iran when he was arrested on 26 April 2016. He was held in Evin prison by ministry of intelligence officials for seven months. He was held for three months in solitary confinement, without access to a lawyer. Ahmadreza Djalali said that, during this period, he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment to «confess» to being a spy. These included threats to execute him; his children, who live in Sweden; and his elderly mother, who lives in Iran. He has said that he was forced to make «confessions» in front of a video camera by reading out statements pre-written by his interrogators. Ahmadreza Djalali denies the accusations against him and says they have been fabricated by the authorities.

Ahmadreza Djalali was sentenced to death for «corruption on earth» (efsad-e fel-arz) in October 2017 after a grossly unfair trial before Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Amnesty International has consistently held that that the offence of «corruption on earth» fails to meet requirements for clarity and precision needed in criminal law, and also breaches the principle of legality and legal certainty. In a letter written from inside Evin prison in August 2017, Ahmadreza Djalali said he was held solely in reprisal for his refusal to use his academic ties in European institutions to spy for Iran. On 9 December 2018, his lawyers learned that Branch 1 of the Supreme Court had upheld his death sentence in a summary manner without granting them an opportunity to file their defence submissions on behalf of Ahmadreza Djalali. On 17 December, an Iranian state-run TV station aired Ahmadreza Djalali’s «confession» during a programme titled Axing the root, which used dramatic music, graphics and international news footage interspersed with Ahmadreza Djalali’s «confession», along with a voiceover presenting him as a «spy». By extracting and airing these forced «confessions», Iranian authorities have violated Ahmadreza Djalali’s right to the presumption of innocence as well as the right not to be forced into incriminating himself. Ahmadreza Djalali has since said the «confession» aired was the one filmed while he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer. Since December 2017, his lawyer has filed at least two requests for a judicial review of Ahmadreza Djalali’s case; the first was rejected and a decision on the second, filed in January 2019, remains pending.

In November 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on Iran to release Ahmadreza Djalali immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, as he had been detained without an arrest warrant, had only been formally charged 10 months after his arrest, and had been «effectively prevented from exercising his right to challenge the lawfulness of his detention». They also found that his right to a fair trial had been violated to such a gravity «as to give Mr Djalali’s deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character».

The refusal of authorities to provide prisoners with medical care constitutes torture if such deprivation is intentional and inflicts «severe pain or suffering» for such purposes as punishment, coercion or intimidation, obtaining a «confession», or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind. For more information, see Amnesty International's report: Health care taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons, 18 July 2016,

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