Student imprisoned in Iran writes letter seeking basic rights

Victoria Pagan

UT physics graduate student Omid Kokabee's second court hearing for espionage charges in Iran was scheduled for Tuesday, but those in contact with him are still not certain if it happened, said Eugene Chudnovsky, a physics professor at Lehman College.

Kokabee was imprisoned while on a visit to his native country Iran in January 2011 under charges of leaking Iranian nuclear secrets to the United States. He pled not guilty to the charges on Oct. 4, 2011 but was not allowed to testify and simply exchanged a written letter with the judge.

Chudnovsky said he was told the hearing was scheduled for Tuesday but he will not know if it happened or what the results were for a few days because of communication barriers.

“It may also happen that the hearing didn't take place,” Chudnovsky said. “It may be that the judge postponed the hearing, but if it took place we will hear back about it soon.”

Attached with the news about the trial was Kokabee's second letter to Ayatollah Larijani, head of the judicial system in Iran, Chudnovsky said. He said the letter was a poor translation from Farsi but the message is clear.

The allegations with respect to requests and practice from the authority are completely incompatible and inconsistent with any logic and common sense, said Kokabee in the translated letter.

“For someone who does not have any activity outside the University and the academic world and [is] not familiar with world politics, what sense does it associate,” said Kokabee in the letter. “And what purpose lies behind the accusations and pressures?”

In the letter, Kokabee said he refuses to put up with threats and a disregard for the country's laws and regulations. He said he demands the basic rights of a prisoner and conditions for a reasonable and impartial court.

“Now as a natural reaction to a prisoner who has insulted his dignity and basic human rights, I declare that after this I'm not willing to go to court and defend myself, if you forced me to take court,” said Kokabee in the translated letter. “I will not participate in humiliating court and without jurisdiction.”