CCS writes an open letter to Iran”s Ayatollah Khamene’i requesting release from jail of Omid Kokabee, Iranian graduate student in optics at the University of Texas, who had returned to Iran to visit family.
Read our letter:
July 14, 2011
His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i The Supreme Leader, The Islamic Republic of Iran Tehran Your Eminence, Grand Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamene’I:
We are writing to ask Your Eminence to correct a grave mistake made by the government officials in jailing Omid Kokabee, an Iranian doctoral student at the University of Texas – Austin. Mr. Kokabee was arrested at Tehran airport on a visit of his parents last winter. We were told that he was held at Evin prison and that he would soon stand trial on charges of “communicating with hostile government” and “illegitimate earnings”.
Iranian physics student faces trial for spying, Nature, July 15, 2011
Missing physicist may have been jailed in Iran, Nature, May 16, 2011
Physics student awaits espionage trial in Iran, Physics World, July 15, 2011
We are an independent non-government organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars. Our contacts with Omid Kokabee’s professors and fellow students at the University of Texas, as well as at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, where Omid obtained his Masters Degree in optics before coming to Texas, all confirm that he was dedicated to his studies and refrained from engaging in politics. He was paid for his teaching assistantship within regular support package provided to all first-year U.S. and international doctoral students by the University of Texas and not by the United States Government or any of its agencies.
Some reports indicate that Mr. Kokabee might have been suspected in the exchange of information on nuclear technology. As scientists, we can assure you, that his research and studies had nothing to do with nuclear energy. His education and his Ph.D. project are in optics. He appears to be a talented young scientist whose studies have been interrupted for no good reason. If Omid is given opportunity to continue his research, he will be able to bring important skills and honor to your great country.
Imprisonment of Omid Kokabee and his upcoming trial have planted fear in the hearts of Iranian students that are currently studying abroad. Instead of bringing their skills and knowledge back to Iran, many of them are re-thinking their future in fear of reprisal on their return home. We trust that your wisdom will direct you to disperse this fear by promptly allowing Mr. Kokabee to return to his doctoral studies abroad and to travel freely to Iran, his native country.
Thank you for your consideration of this letter.
With our highest regards,
Co-chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists