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Iran to consider postponing death sentence of academic convicted of aiding Israel

Ahmedreza Djalali was arrested during visit to Islamic Republic in 2016, with Tehran claiming he helped Mossad in assassination of two nuclear scientists

A flyer during a protest outside the Iranian embassy in Brussels for Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic detained in Tehran for nearly a year and reportedly sentenced to death for espionage, February 13, 2017. (Photo by DIRK WAEM / Belga / AFP)
A flyer during a protest outside the Iranian embassy in Brussels for Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic detained in Tehran for nearly a year and reportedly sentenced to death for espionage, February 13, 2017. (Photo by DIRK WAEM / Belga / AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran could postpone the death sentence expected later this month against Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmedreza Djalali, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

ISNA news agency had reported earlier this month that Djalali would be executed by May 21, after he was sentenced to death in 2017 over espionage for Israel.

“Mr. Djalali’s sentence is definite, as the judiciary had announced,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.

Asked if Djalali and his lawyers had requested a review of the sentence, Khatibzadeh said: “They have requested that the execution be done at another time.”

“It is being considered… the judiciary will naturally follow up on the case,” he said.

UN envoy Enrique Mora has called for the release on “humanitarian grounds” of Djalali, during a visit last week to Iran to help revive the 2015 nuclear pact with Western powers.

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora speaks to journalists after a meeting on the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna, on December 17, 2021. (Alex Halada/AFP)

“I want to underline that in Tehran I raised the need to stop execution of #AhmadrezaDjalali and asked for his release on humanitarian grounds,” Mora tweeted after the two-day visit which ended Friday.

Djalali, who was based in Stockholm and worked at Karolinska Medical Institute, was arrested during a visit to Iran in April 2016.

He was sentenced to death the following year after being found guilty of passing information about two Iranian nuclear scientists to Israel’s Mossad spy agency that had led to their assassinations.

Sweden granted Djalali citizenship while in detention in February 2018.

In March 2021, UN human rights experts called for his release, saying that he was “near death.”

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