Swedish Resident Held in Evin Prison for One Year Denied Lawyer for Third Time
Ahmadreza Jalali, an Iranian-born Swedish resident detained in Evin Prison since April 2016, has been denied a lawyer of his choosing for the third time, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“Unfortunately, Ahmadreza’s trial has been delayed for several months only because Judge [Abolqasem] Salavati has not accepted any of his three lawyers, who are all very well-known,” said the source on April 19, 2017.
“His family have grown tired. They don’t know who to pick as a lawyer anymore,” added the source. “Many lawyers are already afraid to accept political cases and some of them specifically refuse to face Judge Salavati.”
Djalali, an expert in emergency disaster medicine who lives in Sweden with his wife and two children, was officially invited to the capital city by Tehran University and had previously cooperated with the country’s Red Crescent Society.
He was arrested on April 24, 2016 by Intelligence Ministry agents and held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 209 where he was interrogated for seven months, the source told CHRI.
The charges against Djalali have not been publicly disclosed, but during the interrogation stage he was accused of “collaborating with enemy states.”
“The family first hired Mr. [Mahmoud Alizadeh] Tabatabaee, but Judge Salavati opposed him. Then, when they proposed Ms. Zeinab Taheri, at first Mr. Salavati accepted her and she took on the case, but after a few months Mr. Salavati dismissed her, too. Then a third lawyer, who has 15 years of experience in Tehran, was hired but was also rejected by Judge Salavati. The family really doesn’t know what to do.”
The source declined to provide the name of the third lawyer.
Salavati has presided over many cases against dual nationals, including Iranian-Americans Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian, who were released in January 2016 in a prisoner swap deal with the United States.
In all these cases, the victims have been held without due process and under unclear or unannounced charges, and denied full and proper legal representation.
Death Penalty Threats
Djalali went on hunger strike on February 15, 2017 for about three weeks to protest being denied a lawyer and against being threatened by interrogators and Judge Salavati with the death penalty before his trial.
The source told CHRI Djalali’s health is declining in prison.
“He has a lot of pain in his legs. One of his toes has become numb and he can barely walk,” said the source. “He had no problems with his legs before prison. Tests have shown that the problem is lack of calcium because of his hunger strike.”
In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani in January 2017, Jalali’s wife, Vida Mehran-nia, pleaded for help.
“For the sake of an innocent citizen behind bars, I asked him to look into the unjust treatment Ahmadreza has received and to investigate Judge Salavati’s death threats,” Mehran-nia told CHRI in March 2017. “I haven’t gotten a response yet.”
“Is this justice? I also wrote to the judiciary’s Human Rights Director Mohammad Javad Larijani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif,” she said. “None of them have replied.”
The judiciary’s ongoing imprisonment of dual nationals contradicts Rouhani’s repeated calls for expatriates to return to Iran. The growing number of arrests also reflects hardliners’ efforts to prevent the engagement with the West that the Rouhani administration has sought to encourage.
Iranian-British dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016, has been held since April 2016; Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, held since October 2015 and his father, 80-year-old Baquer Namazi, held since February 2016, have both been sentenced to ten years in prison; British-Iranian Roya Saberi Nobakht, held since October 2013, has been sentenced to seven years; and Iranian-Austrian dual citizen Kamran Ghaderi, held since January 2016, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Iranian-American Karan Vafadari, held since July 2016, has not been sentenced yet.