Iran once again has threatened to execute a Swedish Iranian dual national scientist held hostage in Tehran, ruling out a prisoner swap with Sweden.
The Judiciary spokesman Zabihollah Khodayan on Monday ruled out a prisoner swap, as initially the media had speculated would be the case.
Last week Iranian semi-official media reported that a death sentence for “espionage” against Hamidreza Djalali (Jalali) was approved by the supreme court and would be carried out soon. Djalali was arrested in 2016 when he traveled to Iran on the invitation of a university and later sentenced to death for "espionage."
The news came as the long trial of Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian judicial official in Sweden came to an end and the prosecution demanded in April the maximum sentence of life in prison.
The threat of executing Djalali was seen as pressure by Tehran to reduce the possible conviction of Nouri on charges of war crimes in the 1988 prison executions of thousands of political detainees in Iran.
Sweden arrested the man in 2019 when he arrived at Stockholm for a vacation, having been tipped off about his alleged crimes in 1988. Sweden has claimed universal jurisdiction in taking the action, since accusations against Nouri amounted to war crimes.
Judiciary’s Khodayan on Tuesday insisted that the scientist death sentence is not related to Nouri’s trial in Sweden and the government will take steps to carry it out. But Tehran had demanded Nouri’s release on May 2, and there is little public doubt that the Islamic Republic is pressuring Sweden.
Hamid Nouri who is awaiting a verdict by a Swedish court in the case of mass prisoner killings in Iran
On Monday, the spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry Saeed Khatibzadeh criticized Nouri’s trial, insisting that Sweden has no jurisdiction to prosecute the former official, who is accused of having had an active role in the summary trials and executions of political prisoners more than three decades ago.
Khatibzadeh complained that Nouri’s “basic rights” have been violated, but few governments or human rights organizations would take this charge seriously while Iran is notorious for its secret trials of political prisoners without due process of law.
Kazem Gharibabadi, deputy head of the Judiciary also announced that the Islamic Republic “will not tolerate the violation of Nouri’s human rights.” Gharibabadi was previously Iran’s envoy to international organizations in Vienna and participated in nuclear talks last year. He also repeated Tehran’s unproven accusations that Djalali was an Israeli spy.
“Sweden is Mossad’s intelligence partner and has pursued recruitment of certain individuals and actions against our national security,” he said. He claimed to have proof and said that he threatened the Swedish ambassador that if he complained again about Djalali’s case, Tehran would share the documents with the media.
Amid attempts by Europe to jump start stalled nuclear negotiation between Iran and the United States, the execution of Djalali would be damaging step, to say the least.
Both Sweden and the United States expressed deep concern last week over Iran’s threat to execute Djalali. The European Union and its foreign policy officials have not publicly condemned Iran’s latest threat, perhaps not to derail efforts to restart nuclear talks, but privately they might have brought the issue up with the Iranians.
Enrique Mora, the EU’s coordinator in the talks is scheduled to visit Tehran later Tuesday to discuss the stalled negotiations.