Dual national Iranian prisoner alleges coercion of 'forced confessions'

Jalali was arrested while on an pedagogical tour organized by Tehran University in April of 2016. He was shown on state-run television confessing to charges of "collaboration with a hostile gov't."

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August 5, 2019 05:08
2 minute read.
A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006.

A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

The family of Dr. Ahmad Reza Jalali, an Iranian-Swedish dual national scientist who has been held in Iranian custody since 2016 on charges of espionage, has claimed that security officials are pressuring him into admitting to new allegations via a broadcasted "forced confession," according to a Radio Farda report.

Jalali was arrested while on an pedagogical tour organized by Tehran University in April of 2016. He was shown on state-run television confessing to charges of "collaboration with a hostile government," in particular providing intelligence to the Israeli Mossad about the Iranian military and their nuclear scientists - two of which were assassinated in 2010.

Jalali was given the death sentence for the espionage charges, immediately following the ruling Sweden granted the scientist citizenship in order to pressure Iran to free the arbitrarily detained prisoner - however, Iran does not recognize dual nationality.

Allegedy, Iranian authorities requested Jalali to assist with spying on fellow Iranian scientists located abroad, a request which he denied, subsequently upholding his death sentence, according to Radio Farda.

"My husband told me on the phone that he had been under heavy pressure to submit to a forced confession," Jalali's wife, Mehran Nia, told Radio Farda in a phone interview, "[Intelligence agents] have threatened him to either admit new accusations or be prepared for the execution of the death penalty issued against him."

According to the report, voice recordings uploaded to YouTube recount Jalali conversing in solitary confinement alleging that he was coerced into making two "forced confessions" - instructed to read pre-prepared statements disseminated to him by Iranian officials.

In an unsystematic move, Jalali was reportedly moved from the infamous Evin prison, to an undisclosed location to be housed within a cell reportedly monitored by CCTV.

"Evin Prison has been dubbed 'a black hole of evil,' a notorious torture factory where merciless guards reduce dissidents and political prisoners to quivering wrecks," according to an article written by Matt Roper, published by The Mirror. "And where few who enter leave with their lives - or at least their sanity - intact."

Many human rights organizations have condemned Jalali's imprisonment and sentence, including Amnesty International. According to the watchdog, the scientist has participated in prolonged hunger strikes in protest to his indictment - they also requested urgent medical attention for the scientist earlier in May, after alleging the prison has not provided him adequate care for his many ongoing (some serious) ailments as well as the reoccurring charge that interrogators tortured Jalali into making false confessions.

The watchdog also reports that Jalali lost nearly a third of his body weight, 24 kilograms, while in detention and now weighs 51 kilograms total.

"On two occasions, most recently in February 2019, Ahmad Reza Jalali was scheduled to be transferred to a hospital
outside of prison to see a specialist, but, on the day of the transfer, he was told that the transfer was conditioned on him being shackled and wearing a prison uniform.

"He protested against these degrading conditions and, in reprisal, the authorities cancelled the transfer," said Amnesty. "This treatment violates the absolute prohibition on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments under international law; Iranian authorities have an obligation to treat prisoners respectfully in accordance with their inherent dignity as human beings."


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