Iran approves death penalty for researcher accused of spying for Israel
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Iran approves death penalty for researcher accused of spying for Israel

Supreme Court confirms sentence of Ahmadreza Djalali, accused of giving Mossad information that led to assassination of Iranian scientists

A rally at the Iranian embassy in Brussels, in support of Ahmadreza Djalali, after Iran's Supreme Court upheld the death sentence handed to the Iranian-born Swedish resident and specialist in emergency medicine, on December 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Belga/Virginie Lefour)
A rally at the Iranian embassy in Brussels, in support of Ahmadreza Djalali, after Iran's Supreme Court upheld the death sentence handed to the Iranian-born Swedish resident and specialist in emergency medicine, on December 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Belga/Virginie Lefour)

TEHRAN — Iran’s Supreme Court on Monday approved the death sentence of an Iranian researcher accused of spying for Israel.

The semi-official ISNA news agency reported the court’s decision. It is not clear when the sentence will be carried out. The ruling is not subject to appeal.

Ahmadreza Djalali, who has been jailed since April 2016, was shown on state TV earlier this month confessing to providing information to Israel’s Mossad spy agency about Iranian military and nuclear scientists, including two who were assassinated in 2010.

Djalali, who was sentenced to death in October, had been accused of passing information to the Mossad during the negotiations that led to Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2015.

In the broadcast, Djalali said that during his studies in a European country, a man he identified as “Thomas” approached him with a job offer and ultimately recruited him to the country’s foreign intelligence service. He added that the service promised to make him a citizen of that country.

Ahmadreza Djalali, left, and his family. (Screen capture via YouTube/Amnesty International)

Djalali, a physician and researcher in disaster relief, said that before he left Iran he had worked on a project for Iran’s Defense Ministry, which may have been why his recruiters — allegedly officers from the Mossad posing as European authorities — sought him out.

It was not clear if he was speaking under duress. Rights groups have condemned Djalali’s detention, saying it follows a pattern of Iran detaining dual nationals indefinitely without due process.

Earlier this month, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld his death sentence. Amnesty International then said that Iran’s courts had “run roughshod over the rule of law” by upholding Djalali’s death sentence.

Lawyers for Djalali, an emergency medicine specialist resident in Sweden, were informed that the supreme court had upheld his sentence “without granting them an opportunity to file their defense submissions,” Amnesty said in a statement.

Djalali was a visiting professor at Belgium’s Vrije University when he was arrested during a trip to Iran in April 2016.

Djalali has claimed he is being punished for refusing to spy for Iran while working in Europe.

“This is not only a shocking assault on the right to a fair trial, but is also in utter disregard for Ahmadreza Djalali’s right to life,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty’s internal deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Djalali’s lawyers repeatedly contacted the supreme court in order to present their submissions over the past month, but were stonewalled, Amnesty said.

“One of the actions of the convict was revealing the location of and some information on 30 outstanding individuals engaged in military and nuclear research projects,” Tehran’s prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said when the sentence was first announced in October.

Dolatabadi said the information led to the assassination of two Iranian nuclear scientists, Majid Shahriari and Masoud Alimohammadi, killed in bomb blasts in 2010 at the height of tensions over the country’s atomic program.

Djalali’s lawyers said the evidence in his initial trial was gathered under duress and produced no evidence to substantiate the allegations.

Between 2010 and 2012, five Iranian scientists — four of them involved in the country’s nuclear program — were murdered in bomb and gun attacks in Tehran.

The Islamic republic accused the US and Israel of killing its scientists, including Shahriari, a key member of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a deputy director of the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.

In 2012, Iran executed Majid Jamali Fashi, convicted for working for Mossad and assassinating Alimohammadi. Three others, including nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, have since been hanged for working for Israel and the US.

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