Iranian-Swede in Tehran prison announces hunger strike

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Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmad Reza Jalali, who has been on death row in Iran for eight years, will begin a hunger strike this week, his wife told AFP on Tuesday.

Vida Mehrannia said her husband “thought the only way anyone can hear his voice in the world is to just start a hunger strike” on Wednesday.

Two Swedes were released by Tehran on June 15 in exchange for Hamid Noury, a 63-year-old former Iranian prisons official who was handed a life sentence in Sweden in 2022 for his role in mass killings in Iranian jails in 1988.

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The two Swedes were EU diplomat Johan Floderus, held in Iran since April 2022 on espionage charges, and Iranian-Swede Saeed Azizi, arrested in November.

But Jalali, on death row in Iran since 2017 after an espionage conviction, missed out on the swap.

In an audio message sent to AFP on June 19, Jalali criticized Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson for his decision “to leave me behind under huge risk of being executed.”

Mehrannia said in a statement sent to AFP on Tuesday that “as a medical doctor, Ahmad Reza knows all too well that his fragile physical state makes a hunger strike potentially fatal, but he sees no other option.”

She said he suffered from “heart arrhythmias, bradycardia, hypotension, chronic gastritis, anemia, and extreme weight loss from his previous two hunger strikes.”

“This physician, loving husband and father of two wants to be reunited with his family,” she said.

“He wants to serve society once more as a dedicated doctor. He wants to be recognized and treated as a human being again.

“Ahmad Reza is now pleading to the world for help. He needs this endless brutality to end.”

The Swedish government has insisted that it tried to secure Jalali’s release but that Tehran refused to recognize him as a Swedish citizen as he was only an Iranian national when he was arrested and received his Swedish citizenship later.

“We had the choice of either bringing Johan and Saeed home, or dropping everything. It’s the brutal truth, but I have a lot of respect for her disappointment,” Kristersson said of Mehrannia to Swedish television SVT on Tuesday.

Mehrannia is scheduled to have a meeting with Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom on July 2 to discuss her husband’s case.

Read more:

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Freed Swedish EU diplomat Johan Floderus ‘in seventh heaven’ after Iran prisoner swap

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