Omid Kokabee, UT physicist imprisoned in Iran, releases public letter

Alberto Long

Omid Kokabee, a former UT grad student currently imprisoned in Iran, said in a public letter he has been “persecuted for refusing to cooperate with Iranian military projects,” the Nature International Weekly Journal of Science reported last week.

Kokabee, who transferred from the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain to UT as a laser physics Ph.D. candidate in 2010, wrote in a letter dated March 2013 that he has refused all petitions to collaborate with the Iranian military before and during his ongoing detention.

“Since 2005, I have been invited several times to work as a scientist and technical manager for military and intelligence projects,” Kokabee wrote.

Kokabee also said he was asked in 2006 to develop a powerful carbon dioxide laser for isotope separation, which can be used to enrich uranium.

In the public letter, Kokabee says the Iranian military’s invitations often came with lucrative offers. He was offered a full scholarship funded by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to enroll in doctoral programs.

The coercion on behalf of Iranian officials continued while he was imprisoned, Kokabee wrote. While in prison, Kokabee received a visit from an alleged representative of Iran’s National Elites Foundation, an organization designed to support talented Iranians. He also reported government representatives visited his family in his hometown of Gonbad-e Qabus. Kokabee said he has been offered release from prison in exchange for cooperation in several of these instances.

Iranian authorities arrested Kokabee on Jan. 30, 2011 inside a Tehran airport. On May 13, 2012, Kokabee was sentenced to 10 years in prison for cooperating with a hostile government.

In the letter, Kokabee maintains his innocence and says many transgressions have impeded the progress of his trial, detention and interrogation.

According to the Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, there are several scientific organizations in the US that have openly supported Kokabee in his struggle and are petitioning for his right to a fair trial.

Printed on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 as: Iran prisoner details arrest