Yesterday, Dr. Sirous Asgari was finally released from ICE detention and deported to Iran, following a successful judicial decision to release him from custody. Dr. Asgari, an Iranian engineering professor who was detained by ICE despite being exonerated by U.S. courts over alleged sanctions violations, spent months in ICE custody amid the pandemic and ultimately contracted COVID-19.
Dr. Asgari, who suffers from respiratory problems and was at heightened risk of complications from COVID-19, was held indefinitely in squalid conditions in Louisiana even though he had not been convicted of any charge and had asked to either be deported back to Iran or released back to his family in the United States. At the facility, detainees like Dr. Asgari had little to no soap or sanitizer, no social distancing, no laundry services, and no hygienic supplies like masks. A joint effort by Iranian-American organizations, including NIAC, had pressed for his humanitarian release.
Dr. Asgari’s unjust imprisonment and his contraction of the coronavirus remains a cautionary tale for hundreds of other prisoners held under ICE custody who are at greater risk of catching the disease.
Asgari’s release also comes amid reports that Michael White, a U.S. Navy veteran unjustly detained in Iran in July 2018, could be allowed to return to the U.S. soon. Both White and Asgari should have been granted their freedom long ago, along with dual nationals like Siamak and Baquer Namazi and Morad Tahbaz who are still being arbitrarily held by Iran. We reiterate our call on the Iranian government to release them, along with all prisoners of conscience, and to move to uphold their international human rights obligations. We also call on the Trump administration to redouble their efforts to secure the release of imprisoned Americans in Iran through serious diplomatic negotiations.Back to top