Urgent—Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s Professor Ahmadreza Djalali Sentenced to Death

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

A judge in Tehran has ordered the death penalty for Iranian disaster-medicine researcher Ahmadreza Djalali, according to his wife, Vida Mehrannia, and diplomatic sources in Italy.

The 45-year-old professor who taught at the European Master in Disaster Medicine (EMDM) in Italy—a joint Master’s program of the Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel—was arrested in April 2016 on charges of “collaboration with a hostile government” while he was visiting his family in Tehran.

Djalali works on improving hospitals’ emergency responses to armed terrorism and radiological, chemical, and biological threats. Following a trial led by Abolqasem Salavati, a judge in Iran's Revolutionary Court on October 21, Djalali was convicted of espionage and sentenced to death.

Djalali has 20 days to appeal against the sentence. His wife says that her husband was accused of obtaining money, academic positions, and research projects in exchange for spying on Iran for Israel. Mehrannia says that Djalali is considering a hunger strike to protest at the sentence, as Djalali has carried out multiple hunger and thirst strikes throughout his imprisonment. Djalali has also been forced to change his lawyer against his will, according to the Committee of Concerned Scientists.

Several scholars and human-rights organizations including Endangered Scholars Worldwide have called for a fair trial or release for the academic. We consider this arbitrary sentence a flagrant and unjust violation of the freedom, security, and safety of an academic who is clearly a victim of a political witch hunt—arrested without cause, held for months in solitary confinement and without access to a lawyer, and subjected to physical mistreatment and psychological abuse. We deplore the unjustified verdict in the strongest terms and call upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to strongly 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.

Please send appeals to the following:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader