Today I am writing to the Iranian Ambassadors in the UK and the EU to call for the immediate release of Dr Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic who faces the death penalty for politically motivated charges. MEPs have a responsibility to uphold the EU’s high standards of human rights and demand the same from governments worldwide.
Dr Djalali is a well-established and respected academic in Europe, having worked in Italy, Belgium and latterly Sweden. On the 25th April 2016, he was arrested during a business-trip to Iran and denied access to lawyers. In a grossly unfair trial in October 2017, he was convicted for “spreading corruption on earth” and spying on Iran. According to Djalali, these jumped-up charges were in retaliation for his refusal to act as an Iranian spy whilst working as an academic in Europe. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest he engaged in any activity against Iran or its government.
My opposition to the death penalty is resolute, and especially in cases where the accused is innocent and it is so blatantly politically motivated. I am therefore calling on the authorities to annul Dr Djalali’s death sentence immediately, as well as allowing him access to medical professionals and the chance to appeal against his conviction at the highest court.
The EU and the Council of Europe have been instrumental in ending the death penalty worldwide, with opposition to capital punishment forming an integral part of the EU’s policies on human rights and foreign affairs. Most recently, the EU has put in place rules to stop the export of European drugs used for executions in the US. For decades, the EU has been a beacon of democracy and force for good on the world stage, which is one of the reasons I believe passionately in stopping Brexit.