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European Parliament president: ‘free condemned researcher’

Image: European Union

UN high commissioner also echoes calls to stop imminent execution of Ahmadreza Djalali

Roberta Metsola, the president of the European Parliament, has called on Iran to stop the execution of Swedish-Iranian disaster medicine researcher Ahmadreza Djalali—which is reportedly set to take place by Saturday—and free him immediately.

Dijali was arrested in April 2016 while visiting Iran to attend academic workshops. He was charged with spying and later convicted and sentenced to death but denies all charges against him. Academic organisations around the world have repeatedly called for his release.

According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Iranian authorities announced on 16 May that the execution was scheduled to take place by 21 May. The authorities reportedly said it could be postposed following a request from Djalali’s lawyers, but added: “The verdict is final and the execution will be carried out.”

In a session of the European Parliament on 18 May, Metsola (pictured) called for Dijali to be immediately and unconditionally pardoned and released. She said: “The death penalty is not a deterrent to capital crimes. It is an intolerable denial of the most basic human right—the right to life.”

A spokesperson for the UN high commissioner said the office was “deeply alarmed” by the imminent execution and called on Iranian authorities to “urgently” halt it and revoke the death sentence.

They added that the use of the death penalty for espionage offences was “incompatible” with international human rights law.