CCS wrote a letter to the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in response to the May 13th conviction of Omid Kokabee, an Iranian graduate student at the University of Texas, Austin. Kokabee was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “communicating with a hostile government”. The letter stated that “there has been a tragic misunderstanding in this case, in which a promising young Iranian scientist was convicted of a grave charge without proof of wrongdoing. His sentence also threatens the ability of Iran to continue its great tradition of sending many Iranians for studies abroad and to engage in international scientific collaborations.”
Read the letter:
Our Previous Activities
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
662 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
May 21, 2012
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. We write now in concern for Omid Kokabee.
On July 14, 2011, we wrote an open letter 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. Kokabee was arrested at Tehran airport on a visit of his parents last winter. We understand from news reports that Kokabee was recently sentenced to 10 years in jail for “communicating with a hostile government,” ater a group trial of 10 or 15 people. Kokabee and others were convicted of a general charge of collaborating with Israel’s intelligence agency. While the other accused had confessed under pressure to the accusations on Iranian television, Kokabee has steadfastly denied all charges since he was first imprisoned.
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 Kokabee 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 with 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 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.
We believe, as we did when we first wrote to you, that there has been a tragic misunderstanding in this case, in which a promising young Iranian scientist was convicted of a grave charge without proof of wrongdoing. His sentence also threatens the ability of Iran to continue its great tradition of sending many Iranians for studies abroad and to engage in international scientific collaborations. We hope that you will exercise your power to pardon Omid. Kokabee and allow him to return to his doctoral studies abroad, as well as to travel freely to his native country.
Sincerely,Eugene Chudnovsky Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists