The University of Copenhagen Supports Death-Sentenced Scientist

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

The rector of the University of Copenhagen has signed a letter expressing concern over the death sentence issued against Ahmadreza Djalali, a scholar of disaster medicine. Djalali was arrested in April 2016 in Iran as apparent retaliation for peacefully exercising the right to academic freedom.

Since June 2016, the University of Copenhagen has been an active member of Scholars at Risk (SAR), an international network whose mission is to protect scholars and promote academic freedom internationally.

Read the letter from the Rector of the University of Copenhagen (PDF).

Although an Iranian national, Djalali's permanent residence is in Sweden. The Swedish government has granted him Swedish citizenship in hopes of getting him closer to freedom.


Djalali is the father of two children, a researcher in disaster medicine, and a former PhD and research associate at the Karolinska Institute of Medicine. He is also associated with the University of Eastern Piedmont in Novara, Italy and the Free University in Brussels, Belgium. His line of work entails frequent international scientific collaboration.


While visiting Iran in April 2016, Djalali participated in various workshops at universities in Teheran and Shiraz. Iranian authorities then arrested Djalali on allegations of “collaboration with hostile governments” and “acting against national security," and he has since been detained in Evin prison.


In October 2017 Iranian authorities sentenced Djalali to death on allegations of spying against the Iranian government. Amnesty International reported that Djalali was charged after a “grossly unfair trial.”


SAR asks for support in the form of letters, email, or faxes sent to the Iranian authorities in hopes of liberating Djalali. SAR is very concerned about the death penalty and calls on all member universities to contribute and give their support.


The University of Copenhagen has signed a letter to show their support and to emphasize their commitment to academic freedom and international relations. The letter also emphasizes that the sharing of knowledge is fundamental to academic life and that everyone should have the right to academic freedom without fear of tyranny or suppression.


The University of Copenhagen is, therefore, respectfully asking partner universities, colleagues, and all humanitarian organizations to intervene by urging the relevant authorities to reverse Djalali’s capital sentence immediately, to secure his unconditional release from prison, to drop all charges against him, and to ensure his access to proper medical treatment.


Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores Djalali's unjustified verdict and calls upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to protest and condemn this arbitrary sentence; to call for Djalali’s immediate and unconditional release; and to urge the officials of the Iranian government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights as specified in international conventions and treaties.


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