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EXPLAINER: Who’s the Swedish physician dealing with execution in Iran

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Vida Mehrannia is making an attempt to avoid wasting her husband’s life. Iran is scheduled to place him to demise inside 9 days — by May 21.

To Iran, the 50-year-old Ahmad Reza Jalali is a spy for Israel. To his colleagues, he’s a revered doctor specialised in catastrophe drugs, a most demanding area. To Mehrannia, he’s a beloved husband.

“It’s a nightmare,” she advised The Associated Press from Stockholm, the place she lives along with her 10-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter who haven’t seen their father within the six years since his arrest. “They want to sacrifice my husband.”

Mehrannia pins her fading hopes on Jalali’s Swedish citizenship and Stockholm’s makes an attempt to push for his launch. The extent of these efforts is unclear, although the Swedish international minister known as her Iranian counterpart final week and, together with the European Union, demanded Jalali be launched.

But it seems that Jalali’s very ties to Sweden are what landed him in an Iranian jail.

In Iran, some foreigners are pawns, each in Tehran’s inside political rivalries and in tensions between Tehran and Western capitals, analysts say. A sample of Westerners being picked up has grown more and more seen for the reason that collapse of Iran’s nuclear cope with world powers.

On Wednesday, Iran stated it detained two Europeans simply hours after the European Union envoy touched down within the capital in a last-ditch effort to avoid wasting the tattered atomic accord.

Iran has imprisoned not less than a dozen twin nationals lately. Most of them are held on extensively disputed spying fees.

Here’s a have a look at the forces at play in Jalali’s case.


Jalali was born in Iran’s northwestern city of Tabriz. He constructed a profitable profession in Italy and Sweden, publishing over 40 articles in medical journals and educating throughout the continent. When an Iranian college invited him to a workshop in April 2016, he didn’t suppose twice about attending.

He by no means noticed his household once more.

Security providers scooped him up, accused him of leaking particulars about Iranian nuclear scientists believed to have been killed by the Mossad and whisked him to Iran’s infamous Evin Prison the place he was sentenced to demise.

Meanwhile, a landmark quest in Sweden to carry accountable a former Iranian official accused of committing atrocities has kindled outrage again in Tehran.

The two instances have coincided uneasily. Hamid Nouri is standing trial in Stockholm for battle crimes and homicide dedicated through the Iran-Iraq battle — a battle that ended greater than 1 / 4 century in the past and haunts Tehran to this present day.


For the primary time, a number of Iranians who survived mass executions on the finish of the Iran-Iraq battle have taken the stand in a Swedish court docket.

Iran denies any hyperlink between the contentious trial and Jalali’s demise sentence — declared to be imminent final week because the Swedish court docket proceedings grabbed worldwide headlines. Iran’s judiciary spokesman on Tuesday declared Jalali’s verdict remaining. His household believes the instances are linked.

The allegations in Sweden date again to 1988, after Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. Members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, closely armed by Saddam Hussein, stormed throughout the Iranian border from Iraq in a shock assault. Iran blunted their assault.

The sham trials of political prisoners started round that point, with defendants requested to establish themselves. Those who responded “mujahedeen” have been despatched to their deaths, in accordance with a 1990 Amnesty International report. International rights teams estimate that as many as 5,000 folks have been executed.

Iran has sought to bury this darkish chapter of historical past. But now the delicate reminiscences are being dragged to mild. Former prisoners have advised the Swedish court docket that Nouri, a former Iranian judiciary official, handed down demise sentences, guided convicts to chambers the place they have been executed and helped prosecutors collect the names of these sympathetic to the mujahedeen. Nouri denies involvement.

The verdict is anticipated in July and, if discovered responsible, the 61-year-old Nouri might face a life sentence. The case reverberates in Tehran, the place the hard-line former judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi served on the commissions that issued execution orders.

Iran is outraged, condemning the proceedings as “an unjust and illegal show trial.”

Iranian authorities have since detained one other Swedish citizen, a vacationer touring within the nation, Sweden’s Foreign Ministry confirmed final week.


Four many years in the past, younger Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. Embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. They have been launched in 1981, however Iran’s coverage of hostage-taking by no means ended, analysts say.

“It ebbs and flows, but this has been a notorious page in the Islamic Republic’s playbook since 1979,” stated Ray Takeyh, an Iran knowledgeable on the Council on Foreign Relations. “Iran usually detains foreign nationals as a means of getting leverage or something else from that other country.”

The tactic has burst into public view as prisoner swaps acquire traction. When Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers took impact in 2016, 4 American captives flew house from Iran. That similar day, the Obama administration airlifted Iran $400 million in money.

More not too long ago this spring, two British residents who had been jailed in Iran for greater than 5 years have been returned house after the U.Okay. settled a decades-old debt to Iran.

Today there are not less than 4 Americans, two Germans, two Austrians and two French residents identified to be detained in Iran.

A United Nations panel describes their incarceration as a part of “an emerging pattern involving the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of dual nationals.”


Iran is likely one of the world’s main executioners. In March, the U.N. particular rapporteur for Iran advised the Human Rights Council that Iran’s execution depend had surged to 280 final 12 months, together with not less than three minors.

The execution of foreigners, nevertheless, stays extraordinarily uncommon. Iran shouldn’t be publicly identified to have executed a foreigner within the final twenty years.

Dual nationals dealing with the demise penalty lately, equivalent to Iranian-Canadian Hamid Ghasemi or Iranian-American Amir Hekmati, have had their sentences commuted.

Last 12 months, U.N. rights consultants warned that Jalali confronted harsh situations and was “nearing death” as his well being quickly deteriorated in solitary confinement. His conviction, the U.N. says, stems from a confession extracted beneath torture after an unfair trial.

Deprived of sleep beneath brilliant lights, he waits for the day he will likely be taken away to be killed.

It’s a terror his household says they share, even 3,000 miles away.

“It’s torture. … It has completely taken over our lives,” Mehrannia stated. “For the politics of other countries, we are suffering.”

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