Go back

Ministers should look at sanctions for Djalali case, MEPs say


Wife of imprisoned researcher Ahmadreza Djalali warns recent Iranian elections put him at risk

The European Parliament has called on EU governments to continue putting pressure on Iran—potentially through extra sanctions—over the imprisonment of the researcher Ahmadreza Djalali (pictured).

On 8 July, 666 MEPs voted in favour of a motion calling for Djalali’s immediate release, and for ministers in the Council of the EU to “consider further targeted sanctions” against Iranian officials and entities involved in the imprisonment of EU citizens.

The Swedish-Iranian disaster-medicine expert was arrested and charged with spying in Iran in 2016, and later sentenced to death, after he visited the country to give an invited talk at the University of Tehran.

Calls for his immediate release have become more urgent in recent years as his health has deteriorated and the Iranian authorities have signalled his execution is imminent.

Speaking to Research Professional News, Djalali’s wife, Vida Mehrannia, said Iran’s presidential election in June, which was won by the hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, “puts his situation at risk”.

“We hope to see action now by the EU since the resolution last Thursday,” she said, referring to the Parliament’s vote. “We are grateful that so many EU parliamentarians were in support of Ahmadreza and we hope that through strong action, an innocent father may be saved.”

Mehrannia warned that Djalali’s health remains “very unstable” and that he has been unable to call his family in Sweden since November 2020.

The EU is seeking to calm tensions with Iran, as it tries to revive a nuclear non-proliferation deal derailed by the departure of the US from the deal under its then president, Donald Trump.

On 12 July, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, distanced himself from comments critical of Iran’s human rights record by the Slovenian prime minister, Janez Janša. Borrell said Janša “does not represent” the EU’s position, which he said was “balanced” and “trying to find cooperation”, referring to the nuclear deal.

That same day, the European Commission announced €15 million in aid for humanitarian organisations working in Iran. The funding would help Iran respond to the coronavirus pandemic, the Commission said, adding that the money would go only to non-governmental organisations, such as United Nations agencies.