Iranian authorities are preparing to execute Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish scientist under arrest in the country since 2016 on espionage charges, a rights group reported Tuesday.
Djalali was taken from Tehran’s Evin prison at 5 pm local time on Tuesday to Rajaei-Shahr prison in the city of Karaj west of the capital where he is expected to be executed, Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) said, citing the academic’s family.
Radio Farda, the Persian-language broadcaster at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, also reported on Tuesday, citing Djalali’s mother, that authorities had informed her son’s lawyer that he was being transferred to Rajaei-Shahr prison for execution.
Prisoners with a death sentence at the notorious Evin are usually taken to Rajaei-Shahr for execution, according to IHR.
Djalali, a medical doctor and lecturer at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, was arrested on espionage charges in April 2016 while visiting Iran to attend a scientific conference. He was sentenced to death the following year after being found guilty of cooperating with the Israeli Mossad.
Djalali and his family deny the charges and have said the 49-year-old scientist was pressured into making false confessions.
“Djalali is in serious danger of being executed, and only a strong and immediate response from the international community can save his life,” IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said.
Last week, Swedish media quoted Djalali’s wife Vida Mehrannia as saying Djalali had told her in a short phone call that authorities planned to transfer him to Rajaei-Shahr prison for execution.
Following the reports last week, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted that she had spoken to her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif about Djalali, who was granted Swedish citizenship in February 2018 while in prison.
“Sweden condemns the death penalty and works to ensure that the verdict against Djalali is not enforced,” Linde wrote on Twitter.
In response, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said: “Unfortunately, the Swedish authorities’ information on the situation of Mr. Ahmadreza Djalali, who is in prison due to security crimes, is incomplete and incorrect.”
Several dual and foreign nationals are currently under arrest in Iran.
Critics of the Iranian regime accuse Tehran of arresting foreign nationals on trumped-up charges and using them as hostages in an effort to win concessions from other countries.