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Iran rejects potential prisoner swap involving Ahmadreza Djalali

Illustration picture shows a protest for Ahmadreza Djalali, who received the death penalty for espionage in Iran without a fair trial, Tuesday 14 February 2017, at the Iranian embassy in Brussels. (BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM)
06:13 11/05/2022

Iran's judiciary said on Tuesday it will not consider a prisoner swap between Ahmadreza Djalali, the Iranian-Swedish academic and visiting professor at the VUB in Brussels, and a former Iranian prison official on trial in Stockholm for war crimes. Djalali has been convicted of espionage in Iran and is to be executed by May 21 at the latest.

The two cases, according to a spokesperson for the Iranian judiciary, "have nothing to do with each other. That is why there is no question of an exchange. A final verdict has been reached and the judiciary will abide by it."

The statement comes days after the end of the landmark court case in Sweden where, for the first time outside of Iran, a former Iranian official was tried for crimes against humanity. Swedish prosecutors have asked for a life sentence for the official, Hamid Nouri, who was arrested in 2019 on a trip to Sweden, for his role in the mass execution of 5,000 dissidents in the 1980s. He has denied the charges. A verdict is expected in July, according to Sweden’s judiciary.

On the last day of Djalali’s trial, Iranian media announced that the academic, who was sentenced to death in 2020, would be executed on May 21. He was accused of passing on information about two officials working on the Iranian nuclear program to the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and aiding in the assassination of the scientists. Human rights organisations have accused Iran of staging a sham trial.

Djalali had travelled to Iran in 2016 on an invitation from a university to participate in an academic workshop when he was arrested.

Written by Nick Amies