A Swedish-Iranian scientist threatened with execution in Iran for espionage on Wednesday has been granted a stay, his lawyer said.
Ahmadreza Djalali was not transferred from Evin prison in Tehran to Raja’i Shahr prison as planned on Tuesday evening, his lawyer said, which would have been a prelude to his assassination.
It was not immediately clear whether the stay was temporary or the result of intense public and diplomatic pressure on the Iranian authorities to reconsider his case.
His wife, Vida Mehrannia, on Tuesday evening appealed to the media, including the Guardian, urging European governments to come to the aid of her husband. There had also been an intense Amnesty International campaign, but the mood on Tuesday night was foreboding.
Ann Linde, the Swedish foreign minister, spoke with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif last week, asking that her case be reconsidered.
Of Iranian nationality and residing in Sweden, Djalali is a physician, lecturer and researcher in disaster medicine who was arrested in April 2016 after being invited by Iran to a conference. A video of his confession was shown on Iranian state television in December 2017 after he was accused of aiding Israel in planning attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists.
UN human rights experts said in 2017: “The proceedings against him have been marred by numerous reports of violations of due process and a fair trial, including detention at secrecy, denial of access to a lawyer and forced confessions. ”
The UN said he was “threatened with torture and other ill-treatment, and threatened to be sentenced to death under an accelerated procedure,” then “forced to repeat statements dictated before video cameras ”.
He was sentenced to death in October 2017 and the Supreme Court reaffirmed his sentence in November.
According to some reports, the threat of execution could still be linked to the trial in Belgium of an Iranian diplomat. Assadollah Assadi, who served at the Vienna embassy, is accused of supplying explosives to two people to bomb a rally of the opposition group the National Council of Iranian Resistance near Paris on June 30, 2018. Iran may be looking to organize a prisoner swap, as has been the case on previous occasions. Belgian prosecutors are calling for a 20-year prison sentence.
Sophie Wilmès, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with Zarif on Wednesday to “discuss consular matters”, Iranian news agencies reported. Iran is demanding diplomatic immunity for Assadi and he has refused to appear in court.
Wilmès also condemned the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last Friday. Iran said Thursday it had identified the individuals responsible for bringing weapons into the country, but gave no details.