Prisoner (illustration)
Prisoner (illustration) iStock

UN rights experts said on Thursday that Tehran must immediately release Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali, who is reportedly in critical condition after months of prolonged solitary confinement while awaiting execution, AFP reported.

The eight independent experts, who were appointed by the United Nations but who do not speak on its behalf, warned that the professor, arrested during a visit to Iran almost five years ago, was "near death".

"Djalali's situation is truly horrific," said the group, made up of experts on the rights situation in Iran, on extrajudicial executions, on arbitrary detention and on torture.

"He has been held in prolonged solitary confinement for over 100 days with the constant risk of his imminent execution laying over his head," they said in a statement.

"There is only one word to describe the severe physical and psychological ill-treatment of Djalali, and that is torture."

Djalali, a doctor and lecturer at the Stockholm-based Karolinska Institute, was arrested in Iran in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage and sentenced to death. He denied the charges.

In 2017, Iranian state television aired what it described as the confessions of Djalali, saying he had provided information to Israel to help it eliminate several senior nuclear scientists.

Iran claims Djalali is linked to the elimination of four Iranian scientists between 2010 and 2012 that Tehran said was an Israeli attempt to sabotage its nuclear energy program.

In November, Sweden's foreign minister Ann Linde said she had spoken to her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to formally object to the planned execution of Djalali.