Omid Kokabee Granted Release
Washington, DC – NIAC welcomes the release of Iranian physicist Omid Kokabee, who was granted parole by an Iranian court after serving five year in prison for charges of communication with a hostile government. NIAC remains deeply concerned about human rights violations in Iran, including the recent rise in detentions of Iranian Americans and other Iranian dual citizens. Recent reports that detained Iranian-Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar’s health continues to diminish as she languishes in solitary confinement are particularly alarming. NIAC reiterates its call on Iran’s government to release all prisoners of conscience who remain unjustly prisoned and to uphold its human right obligations.
Omid Kokabee was pursuing his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin when he returned in Iran to visit family in 2011 and was seized by authorities while attempting to fly back to the United States. He was initially charged with “gathering and colluding against national security” but was acquitted on those charges. He was subsequently charged and convicted for communicating with a hostile government and sentenced to ten years without any evidence presented against him. In a letter from prison, Kokabee expressed his belief that he was imprisoned because he had declined several invitations to work on Iranian military and intelligence projects.
Kokabee’s imprisonment and the mistreatment he suffered are appalling and contradictory to Iran’s international human rights obligations. Kokabee was reportedly denied access to adequate health services throughout the course of his imprisonment despite severe health problems, including kidney stones. The lack of adequate care likely contributed to his eventual diagnosis of kidney cancer. In April, he was granted temporary medical leave after undergoing kidney surgery. His lawyer, Saeed Khalili has stated that Iran’s judiciary has now provided Kokabee with “conditional freedom” for the remainder of his ten year sentence; having already served more than one third of his sentence, Kokabee was eligible for parole as dictated by Iranian law.