Iran rejects ‘interference’ over academic facing execution

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Iran has warned against “all interference” by Sweden after Stockholm called on Tehran not to execute Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali, who was handed a death penalty three years ago for spying.

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“The judicial power of the Islamic republic is independent -- all interference in the issuance or carrying out of judicial decisions is rejected as unacceptable,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Anne Linde had on Tuesday taken to Twitter after being in contact with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, in the wake of reports that Tehran was preparing to carry out the execution of Djalali, a specialist in emergency medicine.

“Sweden denounces the death penalty and is working to not have the sentence against Djalali carried out,” Linde wrote.

A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison on June 13, 2006. (AP)
A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison on June 13, 2006. (AP)

Khatibzadeh said that the information being used by the Swedish authorities to inform their position on Djalali’s circumstances “was incomplete and false.” He did not elaborate.

Djalali, formerly based in Stockholm where he worked at the Karolinska Institute, a medical university, was arrested during a visit to Iran in April 2016 and sentenced to death in October 2017.

He was found guilty of passing information about two Iranian nuclear scientists to Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency that had led to their assassinations.

He was granted Swedish citizenship in February 2018, while in prison.

His lawyers claimed they were blocked from presenting submissions ahead of a Supreme Court hearing.

Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday called on the international community to “immediately intervene,” to save the academic’s life.

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