Iranian national Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, a professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), has reportedly been charged with espionage and sentenced to death without trial or contact with legal council, according to Britain’s The Independent.
Dr. Djalali was detained by security forces from the Ministry of Information in April of 2016 during a trip to visit family in Iran.
In an interview with Flemish newspaper De Morgen, Djalali’s sister stated that he had “been forced to sign a confession, for which he will receive the death penalty. The Iranian government is calling it a matter of national security. They blame him for collaboration with scientists from foreign, enemy states.”
Djalali’s work as a scientist at the university included contact with colleagues from countries Iran considers hostile, such as Israel, Head of VUB’s Research Group, Ives Hubloue, pointed out.
Hubloue emphasized that the contacts were purely research related.
VUB Rector Caroline Pauwels said that the sentence is “an outrageous violation of universal human rights, against which we should react decisively.”
Please sign this petition for the release of Ahmadreza Djalali: https://t.co/8cNItgPdhE
— #SAVEAHMAD (@Free_Ahmadreza) January 22, 2017
The controversial sentence has sparked outrage among human rights groups and led to an online petition urging Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to release Djalali.
As of Sunday afternoon, the petition had over 50,000 signatures.
According to VUB, the death sentence is due to be carried out in two weeks.