Iranian Physicist Omid Kokabee Granted Parole
August 30, 2016
After more than five years in state custody, Omid Kokabee—an Iranian physicist and Ph.D. student at the University of Texas—has been granted freedom on parole. The CHR would like to thank its many Correspondents who appealed for his release over the years.
Mr. Kokabee was arrested in Iran in February 2011, while visiting his family during the university’s winter break. In 2012, he was convicted on charges related to contact with a hostile government and sentenced to 10 years in prison. In a letter smuggled out of prison, Mr. Kokabee indicated that his arrest came on the heels of his refusal to work on security and military nuclear energy-related projects. Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience “imprisoned for spurious charges arising solely from his refusal to work on military projects in Iran and his legitimate scholastic ties with academic institutions outside of Iran.”
Mr. Kokabee—who has long suffered from kidney stones, as well as stomach inflammation, intestinal bleeding, and dental problems without access to medical care—was taken to the hospital on an emergency basis in mid-April 2016. A urologist there diagnosed him with advanced stage renal cell carcinoma and recommended immediate surgery. Shortly thereafter Mr. Kokabee was transferred to a hospital with an advanced urology unit, and, on April 20, his right kidney was removed. One month later, he was granted temporary medical leave after his friends posted the required bail of 5 billion Iranian rials (U.S. $165,000). Every two weeks he was required to apply for his medical leave to be extended. Throughout his imprisonment, the CHR repeatedly requested that Mr. Kokabee receive medical care for his severely deteriorating health.