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Global group demands political action for researcher jailed in Iran


Academic groups seek help for Ahmadreza Djalali as Iran prepares to swear in hardline president

Fourteen academic and human rights groups have called for the EU, US and European national governments to “act immediately” to secure the release of the jailed researcher Ahmadreza Djalali.

The Swedish-Iranian disaster-medicine expert (pictured) was arrested and charged with spying in Iran in 2016, and later sentenced to death, after he visited the country to take part in workshops at the University of Tehran.

Groups including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the European University Association and the German Rectors’ Conference issued a joint statement on 21 July, calling on governments to secure his release.

They said the international community must “race” to secure Djalali’s release and access to urgent medical treatment, including for leukaemia.

Western governments, which are struggling to restart talks on Iran’s nuclear programmes, should take “all available actions” to help Djalali “before it is too late”, the groups said.

They raised concerns that the recent election of Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line judge who human rights groups allege sentenced thousands of political dissidents to death in 1988, could affect Djalali’s case.

According to state media, Raisi is set to be sworn in on 5 August. Research Professional News has invited the Iranian government to respond to the account of his judgments and the treatment of Djalali.

Raisi has reportedly denied having a major role in the judgments, but reportedly said they were justified. Asked about his role by the news organisation Al Jazeera, he replied: “Everything I’ve done in my time of holding office has been to defend human rights.”