Dr. Sirous Asgari, Material Science and Engineering professor based in Ohio was arrested of charges involving US sanctions against Iran. He was acquitted in November but now remains in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a holding facility in Louisiana. His health is threatened as Louisiana is a high risk area and individuals and staff have been a considerable threat for virus transmission. CCS urges ICE and the White House to release Dr. Asgari immediately.
April 28, 2020
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Matthew T. Albence
Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20536
Dear President Trump and Acting Director Albence,
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 to express our concern for Dr. Sirous Asgari, an Iranian national and materials science and engineering professor based in Ohio. Acquitted in November of charges involving U.S. sanctions against Iran, Dr. Asgari, nonetheless, remains in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in a holding facility in Alexandria, Louisiana known as the Alexandria Staging Facility (“ASF”).
We urge you to see to it that he is released as quickly as possible.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads through jails and prisons in the U.S., Dr. Asgari faces an ever-increasing risk of contracting the dangerous disease. ASF is a facility designed to hold detainees for just 72 hours prior to their deportation, and is not equipped for the kind of prolonged detention that is now occurring there due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Dr. Asgari has been at ASF for over a month now (since March 10), and we understand that the facility is not regularly cleaned, there are no laundry facilities or changes of clothing available, there are no masks, and social distancing is not possible. This is a recipe for disaster for Dr. Asgari, the other detainees, and ASF staff.
Dr. Asgari has reportedly been willing to “self-deport” back to Iran, but remains in detention under these deteriorating conditions. Since he cannot be flown home to Iran, we urge you to allow him to be released to his family in the U.S.
This is a matter of tremendous urgency, and we thank you for your consideration of our urgent request.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists