Sweden grants citizenship to scientist sentenced to death in Iran

Ahmadreza Djalali with his wife Vida Mehran-nia. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 18 February 2018
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Sweden grants citizenship to scientist sentenced to death in Iran

STOCKHOLM: Sweden has granted citizenship to a Stockholm-based scientist being held in Iran under sentence of death, the Swedish foreign ministry confirmed on Saturday.
Ahmadreza Djalali, a medical doctor and lecturer at the Karolinska Institute in the Swedish capital, was arrested in Iran in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage, having been accused of providing information to Israel to help it assassinate several senior nuclear scientists.
Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence in December and Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said Djalali had confessed to meeting agents of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to deliver information on Iran’s nuclear and defense plans and personnel.
“We know that he has been granted citizenship by the Migration Board. We continue in our consular work for Djalali and request consular access to our citizen,” a Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
“We have been in regular contact with Iranian representatives, requested access to Djalali and presented Sweden’s view of the death penalty, which we condemn in all its forms. Our demand is that the death penalty is not carried out,” the spokeswoman said.
Djalali had been on a business trip to Iran when he was arrested and sent to Evin prison. He was held in solitary confinement for three months and tortured, campaigning group Amnesty International has said.
Amnesty said Djalali wrote a letter from inside prison in August stating he was being held for refusing to spy for Iran.
Seventy-five Nobel prize laureates petitioned Iranian authorities last year to release Djalali so he could “continue his scholarly work for the benefit of mankind.”


In Iraq, Angelina Jolie calls for focus on conflict prevention

Updated 20 June 2018
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In Iraq, Angelina Jolie calls for focus on conflict prevention

  • “I hope that we can find the strength to find a better way forward together," she said
  • This was Jolie’s third visit to the camp as UNHCR special envoy

IRBIL: Hollywood star Angelina Jolie called Sunday for a larger focus on conflict prevention rather than responding to its repercussions, during a visit to Iraq with the UN refugee agency.
“I hope that we can find the strength to find a better way forward together: so that we move into a new era of preventing conflict and reducing instability, rather than simply struggling to deal with its consequences,” Jolie told a news conference at the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.
It was Jolie’s third visit to the camp as UNHCR special envoy, after previous visits in 2012 and 2016.
The Domiz camp opened in 2011 and is home to 40,000 Syrian refugees who fled the seven-year civil war across the border.
“When UNHCR’s Syria response was only 50 percent funded last year, and this year it is only 17 percent funded, there are terrible human consequences,” Jolie said.
“We should be under no illusion about this,” she added.
Late last month, the UN made an “urgent and critical” appeal for donations to its main budget for Syrian refugees after contributions pledged in April failed to trickle in.
“When there is not even the bare minimum of aid, refugee families cannot receive adequate medical treatment, women and girls are left vulnerable to sexual violence, many children cannot go to school, and we squander the opportunity of being able to invest in refugees so that they can acquire new skills and support their families,” she said.
Her visit coincided with the third day of Eid Al-Fitr celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
On Saturday, Jolie visited western Mosul, held by Daesh terrorists for nearly three years until they were pushed out by Iraqi forces last summer.
During her visit, she walked through Mosul’s destroyed Old City, met with displaced families and spoke about reconstruction.
“This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years with UNHCR,” Jolie said.
“It is deeply upsetting that people who have endured unparallelled brutality have so little as they try, somehow, to rebuild the lives they once had.”
The visit marked Jolie’s 61st mission — and fifth to Iraq — with the UN refugee agency since 2001.