Iran threatens to execute VUB guest professor Ahmadreza Djalali

Iran threatens to execute VUB guest professor Ahmadreza Djalali

Iranian news agency ISNA reports that the Swedish-Iranian scientist and VUB guest professor Ahmadreza Djalali is expected to be executed on 21 May.

According to ISNA’s source, Dr Djalali, who has been sentenced to death, will be executed at the end of the Iranian month of Ordibehesht, which corresponds to 21 May. The agency also links the execution of Dr Djalali to the trial of Hamid Nouri, an Iranian official arrested in Sweden in November 2019. He is being prosecuted for his alleged role in the massacres that took place in Iranian prisons in 1988.

“This news is extremely worrying and again a heavy blow to the family. Iran’s actions are unpredictable and unacceptable. It is literally vital that countries like Belgium and Sweden put pressure on the Iranian authorities to prevent this execution and call for the release of Ahmadreza Djalali,” says Wies De Graeve, director of Amnesty International Flanders.
“The execution of Djalali must be stopped immediately. We call on the Iranian leaders to stop this barbarity. We ask the whole world to keep pressure on Iran to stop the degrading and unjust treatment of Djalali. He has been held unjustly and in shameful conditions for more than six years. Djalali must be released so that his family can finally embrace him again,” says Jan Danckaert, ad interim rector VUB.

For six years, Ahmadreza Djalali has been arbitrarily imprisoned in Iran. He was accused of espionage and after a manifestly unfair trial was sentenced to death for “spreading corruption on earth”. He has been tortured and his health is poor.

“It shows a far-reaching disdain for humanity when you repeatedly use prisoners with dual nationality as a bargaining tool and threaten them with execution to put pressure on other countries,” says Prof Gerlant van Berlaer, Djalali’s friend and colleague.


Dr Djalali specialises in disaster medicine and was arrested in April 2016 during a working visit to Iran and charged with espionage. For the first 10 days, no one knew where he was being held. In late October 2017, he was sentenced to death after a manifestly unfair trial. He was forced to confess by means of psychological torture and spent the first three months of his detention in solitary confinement. His lawyer was not allowed to visit him until seven months after his arrest.

Dr Djalali’s health is poor and he has not been allowed to call his wife and children in Sweden since November 2020, which makes the situation almost unbearable for them.



Amnesty International and VUB want Dr Djalali’s plight to be given as much publicity as possible worldwide. Belgium, Sweden, the EU and the international community must convince Iran to release him. Pending his release, he should at least be treated humanely: he should be allowed to contact his family and receive the necessary medical care.

In Belgium, more than 130,000 people have signed Amnesty International’s petition calling for the death penalty to be lifted and for him to be released.

For more information, contact the Amnesty International Flanders press office on 0486 75 55 10

Sicco Wittermans
Sicco Wittermans Redacteur externe communicatie en nieuws



About Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.


Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussel