Jalali, a Swedish national, was arrested in April 2016 during a visit to family in Iran. He was accused of espionage based on his contacts with western academics.
Jalali is now on a hunger strike, protesting his imprisonment in Iran by refusing food and water.
The open letter from VUB rector Caroline Pauwels calls for people and organisations the world over to express their opposition to Jalali’s imprisonment. “We would like to impress on colleagues, as well as medical, scientific and humanitarian organisations worldwide to support this call and to spread it,” the letter reads, “so that the case of Dr Djalali can be judged in a correct manner, and that he, once found innocent, can be released to join his wife and children in Sweden.”
Nearly 223,000 people have signed an online petition for Dr Djalali’s release.
Rights advocates have long accused Iranian courts of issuing politically motivated sentences. Trial proceedings, often held behind closed doors, can last only a few minutes, and charges and even verdicts are routinely left to public speculation rather than informing defence teams or family of pending charges.
A number of dual nationals have been arrested in Iran and charged with security offences amid what appears to be a power bid by hard-liners eager to tie the hands of reformist President Hassan Rohani and undermine the potential for less frosty ties with the U.S. and Western countries.
They include Iranian-American business Siamak Namazi and his 80-year-old father, Bagher Namazi, each of whom was sentenced to 10 years in prison for alleged cooperation with the United States.