An online campaign is underway to urge the release from detention of an Iranian nuclear physicist arrested following his refusal to participate in the nation's unsanctioned uranium development program.
Spain and US-educated experimental laser physicist Omid Kokabee, based at the University of Texas at Austin, was arrested at Tehran airport in February 2011 as he returned to the country to visit his family.
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Following a 15-month imprisonment, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiring with foreign countries against Iran, “communicating with a hostile government” (the Israeli intelligence service Mossad) and “illegal earnings” coming from foreign funds.
Kokabee has consistently denied the charges againt him.
The sentence was upheld at an appeal trial, but a letter Kokabee wrote to his former roommate, pleading assistance in getting him released, was published by Nature magazine in English translation and triggered calls to work toward the scientist's release.
Kokabee also wrote that Iranian officials approached him during and after his trial with propositions to collaborate on the uranium enrichment program, promising him freedom and complete sponsorship of his PHD studies. Kokabee wrote he declined the offers.
“Is it a sin that I don’t want, under any circumstances, to get involved in security and military activities?” the letter reads. “I have just turned 30 years old after spending two years in prison, when I am eager to pursue scientific research.”
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