In the past week Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and other state-affiliated websites have re-broadcast forced confessions given by imprisoned Swedish-Iranian doctor Ahmad Reza Jalali. The NGO Iran Human Rights has warned this is often done by Tehran in the days leading up to an execution.
This month officials announced that the planned execution of Dr. Jalali would take place on May 21. On Thursday the Foreign Ministry said it was considering an application by his lawyers to delay it. As of 4.30pm local time on Friday no further information had been issued.
Dr. Jalali was arrested in 2016 and was initially asked by intelligence agents to spy for Iran. He refused and was then beaten and tortured into "confessing" on camera to spying for Israel. The now 50-year-old has since disowned the words he was made to say. He had done so on the understanding he would be released afterwards.
Parts of the interview have been shown many times on Iranian TV. But the re-airing now has left observers deeply worried as it could be a pre-execution propaganda move. This was the case for Navid Afkari, a young wrestler whose forced confessions were aired on September 5, 2020, less than a week prior to his execution on September 12.
The Kurdish political prisoner Heydar Ghorbani’s forced confessions were also re-broadcast on December 18, 2021 ahead of his execution the next morning.
In a statement on Friday, Iran Human Rights director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “Statements by Islamic Republic officials indicate that Dr Djalali’s [planned] execution is in reaction to the trial of Hamid Nouri for war crimes in Sweden, demonstrating once again that the Islamic Republic uses the death penalty as an extortion and pressure tool on Western countries."
Kazem Gharibabadi, the secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights and deputy chief of the Iranian Judiciary’s International Affairs had threatened on May 2 that the sentences of individuals linked to Sweden would be carried out. Swedish prosecutors were concluding their case against Nouri that same week.
"This is a great test for European governments to show they're capable of saving their citizens' lives," Amiry-Moghaddam said. "They must make it clear to Islamic Republic officials that executing Ahmadreza Djalali is considered an execution of a hostage which will have severe consequences."