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Iran upholds death sentence for Iranian academic with Swedish residency - Amnesty

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Iran upholds death sentence for Iranian academic with Swedish residency - Amnesty

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran's Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence against an Iranian academic with Swedish residency convicted of espionage, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

Ahmadreza Djalali, a doctor and lecturer at the Karolinska Institute, a Stockholm medical university, was accused of providing information to Israel to help it assassinate several senior nuclear scientists.

Djalali was arrested in Iran in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage. He denied the charges, Amnesty said.

At least four scientists were killed between 2010 and 2012 in what Tehran said was a programme of assassinations aimed at sabotaging its efforts to develop nuclear energy. Iran hanged a man in 2012 over the killings, saying he had links to Israel.

Djalali's lawyers were told on Saturday that the Supreme Court had considered his case and upheld his Oct. 24 sentence in a secret process without allowing them to file defence submissions, London-based Amnesty said.

"This is not only a shocking assault on the right to a fair trial but is also in utter disregard for Ahmadreza Djalali’s right to life," Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

The Iranian judiciary could not be reached for comment.

Amnesty said in October that the court verdict against Djalali stated he had worked with the Israeli government which then helped him obtain a Swedish residency permit.

Djalali was on a business trip to Iran when he was arrested and sent to Evin prison. He was held in solitary confinement for three months of his detention and tortured, Amnesty said. 

It said Djalali wrote a letter inside Evin last August stating he was being held for refusing to spy for Iran.

Sweden condemned the sentence in October and said it had raised the matter with Iranian envoys in Stockholm and Tehran.

The United Nations and international human rights organisations regularly list Iran as a country with one of the world's highest execution rates. Rights groups have criticised Iran for its regular resort to capital punishment.

(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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