Post-Doc Student Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison
Branch 36 of Tehran Appeals Court upheld the 10-year prison sentence of Omid Kokabi, a post-doctoral Nuclear Physics student. In May 2012, a lower court had sentenced Kokabi, accused of spying for Israel, but his family remained hopeful that the sentencing would be overruled by the appeals court.
Last April, a source close to Kokabi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that during his detention Kokabi was exposed to severe pressure for months to make false confessions. The source added that the distinguished student had been forced to attend his May trial.
Omid Kokabi, 30, is a scientist who graduated from Tehran’s Sharif University. At the time of his arrest at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport as he intended to board a flight, he was a post-doctoral student at University of Texas at Austin. Kokabi was kept in solitary confinement for months and his family and his lawyer were not allowed to see him. After 15 months in “temporary detention,” he was put on trial in a court that reviewed cases of “suspects of cooperating with Israel’s Mossad” under Judge Salavati, who sentenced him to 10 years in prison on May 13, 2012. In this show trial, 13 individuals were accused of espionage for Israel, including Omid Kokabi, who did not make any statements in court. Iran’s state radio and television, IRIB, covered news of the trial under the title, “Trial of Israel Spies.”
The source told the Campaign in May 2012, “Omid told us that the only thing that could help him now would be international pressure, otherwise he would remain in prison without having committed any crimes. We only hope that his sentence is not upheld at appeals court. He is not a spy. He was just a student in the US who has traveled to Iran to visit with his family several times during his education.”
No evidence of Kokabi’s espionage was ever presented during his interrogations or trial, the source told the Campaign. The source also said that Kokabi was under immense pressure for months to provide confessions, but he maintained silence during his trial.
In July 2012, Kokabi wrote a letter addressed to the Head of the Judiciary describing his illegal arrest and his interrogations and forced confession under duress. “I was arrested at the airport with the shocking charge of ‘assembly and collusion against national security,’ and spent 36 days in solitary confinement,” he wrote about his arrest.
“My interrogators would monitor what I wrote line by line, taking the notes from me to read them. Many times they angrily put away my written responses, yelled at me and threatened me, and would give me another [interrogation] sheet, forcing me to again [fill it out], writing what they said, their opinion and perception. What a pity that I obliged,” Kokabi wrote about his forced confessions.
Kokabi wrote in a part of his letter that his interrogators repeatedly threatened to harm his family members. “The only thing I was thinking about was to find out about their well-being and conditions as soon as possible, and be near them. (My first contact with my family was 24 days after my arrest and after I endured my interrogators’ many maneuvers and psychological pressure, and only after satisfying their demands. It lasted less than two minutes.) When I observed that whenever I wrote what my interrogators wanted me to write, or when I wrote what they dictated, the investigations would speed up and there would be less pressure, threats, and intimidation, I automatically reached the conclusion that I should write content that would please my interrogators,” he wrote. (source: http://www.kaleme.com/1390/04/23/klm-65334/)