Throughout 2015, CCS advocated for 15 cases in behalf of scientists, academics and doctors in 10 countries. The following are highlights of our cases so far. The situation in China has become dire for Human Rights attorneys. We advocated for two of them who defended CCS clients in past cases. In Iran, the situation has not improved for Omid Kokabee but we have continued to write in his behalf.
We are pleased to report that, in China, two of our cases were released from jail, Guo Yushan who assisted Chen Guangcheng and Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui was released as well. In Israel, CCS advocated for a Palestinian Astrophysicist who had been detained without charge. CCS wrote the Prime Minister and when the attorney presented our letter for Imad al-Barghothi in court, on appeal, he was immediately released.
Case: Dr. Abdul Jalil Al-Singace, Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Situation: Arrested and sent to jail for speaking out against Human Rights abuses in Bahrain. Sentenced to life in prison. While there Al-Singace began a hunger strike to protest prison conditions for himself and other inmates.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the King of Bahrain requesting an investigation of the prison conditions and to assure proper healthcare for Al-Singace. Had written previously to request a re-examination of his charges and sentence.
Case: Dr. Massaud Jahromi, Chair of Ahlia University’s Computer Science Department
Situation: Citizenship revoked on the grounds of terrorist activities and advocating for a regime change through illegal means. Jahromi denies both charges. Sentenced to 4 months in prison in 2011 for participating in unauthorized rallies. Citizenship revocation unexpected.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote King of Bahrain requesting review of the Jahromi case and reinstatement of his citizenship.
Case: Boris Weisfeiler, Professor of Mathematics (Disappeared)
Situation: Weisfeiler was hiking in Chile (30 years ago under the Pinochet regime) when he disappeared. The case of Weisfeiler’s disappearance is under investigation in the Chilean Courts to determine what happened to him and who was responsible for his disappearance and fate.
CCS’ Role: Over the years CCS has written the Chilean government requesting that they review the case as regards Human Rights abuses.
Status: Minister of the Presidency responded to recent CCS letter indicating that there will be further investigations of human rights abuses during the Pinochet period, to include the Weisfeiler case.
Case: Guo Yushan, Scholar
Situation: Guo was involved in assisting in the escape of Chen Guangcheng in 2012. For his participation in this venture and his other human rights activities Guo was detained in April 2014 for operating an illegal business (a think tank).
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the President of China requesting that he dismiss the charges as they had no basis in fact.
Status: In September Guo was released.
Situation: Both attorneys were detained (along with 288 other human rights lawyers) and their whereabouts are undetermined. Li Heping was the attorney for Chen Guangcheng and Wang Yu was the attorney for Ilham Tohti, cases that CCS has worked on in the past. No specific charges have been announced.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the President of China requesting that he investigate these cases and arrange for their immediate release.
Status: Wang Yu’s son has been held on house arrest with his grandparents after trying to escape to the United States. The President of the New York Bar has also written the President of China requesting their release.
Case: Professor Emad Shahin, Professor of Political Science at the American University of Cairo
Situation: Sentenced to death, in absentia, for espionage —conspiring to undermine Egypt’s national security. Shahin was involved in the disposition of Hosni Mubarek and the implementation of a democratic government under Muhammed Morsi (which was soon overthrown by the military).
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the President of Egypt requesting a reinvestigation of this case and to have the sentence set aside on the basis of due process.
Status: The sentence stands but Shahin left the country before he could be arrested and is teaching in the United States.
Case: Omid Kokabee, Graduate Student in Physics at the University of Texas, Austin
Situation: Kokabee has been confined to a prison in Iran since 2012 for refusing to work in Iran’s Atomic Energy agency. His charge is communicating with a hostile government, which he denies.
CCS’ Role: CCS has been writing the Presidents of Iran since 2012 requesting medical care for Kokabee, as he is quite ill, contact with his family on a regular basis and reconsideration of his case and sentence. CCS had requested that Iranian scientists write the government requesting his release. CCS has been in touch with Kokabee’s family members.
Status: It appears that help from outside of the country has been less than useful and that Kokabee has suffered retribution as a result. The guards have confiscated reading materials that his family brought to him, has taken his nightlight so that he cannot read, has told him to stop reading. Additionally, his health is deteriorating.
Case: Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, Professor at Tehran University (retired)
Situation: Rafiee was arrested in June without a court order or justification. This is the third time the Professor was wrongfully detained: February 2001 and May 2015.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the President of Iran requesting a reinvestigation of Rafiee’s detention and immediate release, as well as access to legal counsel, his family and appropriate medical care. CCS staff is in touch with Rafiee’s family and trying to assist.
Case: Imad al-Barghouthi, Astro-physicist and Professor at al-Quds University
Situation: While traveling to a scientific conference in the UAE, Israeli authorities detained Dr. Barghouthi without charge, possibly based on his opposition to the Gaza operation.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote to the Prime Minister requesting an immediate order of release for Dr. Barghouthi or to bring charges against him.
Status: When Barghouthi’s attorney presented CCS’ letter at the hearing appealing his detention, the court was so impressed that the Judge ordered his immediate release.
Case: Aleksandr Kolchenko, Ecologist
Situation: Kolchenko, a Ukrainian citizen, was arrested in May accused of terrorist attacks and membership in an anti-Russian organization. Kolchenko was tried in a military court in Russia.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the President of Russia requesting that Kolchenko be tried in the proper jurisdiction and a proper court, granting him due process and free expression.
Case: Vladimir Golubev, Nuclear Scientist
Situation: Golubev was a former employee of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre and has been accused by Russian Special Services of leaking state secrets, which turned out to be previously published materials in scientific outlets that he used for his presentation at the conference. He was taken to court, where the Judge released him. Investigators filed for a motion for detention stating he had violated the terms of his release.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the President of Russia requesting an investigation of the arrest and detention to determine if the charges had any basis in fact and to ensure his well-being, pending release. CCS also requested he have access to his family and legal counsel.
Case: Mohammad al-Qathani, Professor of Economics
Situation: al-Qathani founded a Civil and Political Rights Association that calls for Saudi Arabia to adhere to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Following a 10 year travel ban imposed on al-Qathani, the Criminal Court convicted him of planting seeds of sedition, breaking allegiance with the ruler, defaming the judiciary and turning international organizations against the Kingdom, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the Minister of the Interior requesting a re-examination of these proceedings and to withdraw or set aside his jail sentence.
Case: Raif Badawi, Blogger
Situation: Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes (50 lashes a week for 20 weeks) for insulting Islam through electronic channels.
CCS’ Role: CCS posted a notice on the website requesting academics to speak out on behalf of Badawi requesting that such a barbaric sentence cease and that there be a reversal of this process.
Status: Several months ago, Badawi was awarded the PEN Pinter prize and a few days ago was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Human Rights prize. Sadly, his wife has reported, that she was informed the floggings have been ordered to resume. However, they will be done in the prison instead of publicly, as was initially ordered.
Case: Professor Rennan Pekunlu, Professor of Astrophysics at Ege University
Situation: Pekunlu was arrested and sentenced to two years in jail for preventing students from entering his classes wearing headscarves, charges he disputes. Prosecutors are now threatening to add 10 years to the charges for additional students’ reporting the same situation. Pekunlu was dismissed from his position at the University. In 2012 he received a similar sentence that was suspended.
CCS’ Role: CCS requested a reinvestigation of this case and dismissal of the charges, for actions that were lawful at the time they were taken. CCS also requested that he be reinstated in his job.
UNITED ARAB REPUBLIC
Case: Andrew Ross, Professor at New York University
Situation: Ross was barred from boarding a plane bound for the UAE to do further research. He had written extensively about unfair labor practices in the Middle East. NYU and the UAE have an agreement to guarantee academic freedom.
CCS’ Role: CCS wrote the President of New York University querying what the University planned to do concerning the violation of their agreement guaranteeing academic freedom.