Omid Kokabee, physicist

Omid Kokabee.

The mother of Omid Kokabee, a physicist imprisoned in Iran since January 2011, has written a letter to the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, calling for her son’s freedom on the occasion of the start of the new academic year.

“For the fifth consecutive year, when the academic year begins, in a country whose leader emphasizes scientific progress so much, I ask myself, should Omid be studying in class, or in the corner of a prison cell? Do not let us repeat this question again this year,” Safar Bibi Haghnazari wrote in her letter, a copy of which has been made available to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“I request that you order the release of my dear Omid on the occasion of the opening of schools. He is the son of this very land and was thanked and commended for winning a medal in the [Physics] Olympiad … when he met you as a member of a group of top students in 2003. Return him to where he belongs, that is in the arms of learning and academia.”

Later in her letter Ms. Haghnazari referred to the illegal judicial process her son was subjected to and wrote: “I do not want to get into the details of the case. I know, if you want, you can get information about my son from your trusted neutral sources (not those who fabricated this case) and see that he really has not committed any sin. What greater proof than last year the [Iranian] Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in the country, found my son to be innocent of the false and baseless charges against him and ordered his case be reviewed? We were hoping to see my son back home and in university, but shockingly the parallel [Revolutionary] court again reinstated the previous sentence without a single line of logical and legal reasoning, against the judgment of Supreme Court – the highest judicial authority in the country. Unfortunately my innocent son is still in Evin Prison.”

Ms. Haghnazari noted that even if her son was guilty he should be out of prison by now based on Article 134 of Iran’s New Islamic Penal Code, which states that in the case of multiple charges, a individual should not serve more the maximum punishment for the charge carrying the heaviest sentence. “By law, he should have been qualified to receive parole after serving a third of his sentence. Or he should have been included in pardons for various holy occasions. But he is even being denied his legal rights.”

Omid Kokabee’s mother also mentioned that throughout his almost five years in prison, he has not been allowed to have meetings with his lawyer or to go on furlough (temporary leave routinely granted to inmates for medical reasons or familial occasions), despite his poor medical condition.

“Unfortunately after five years in prison, my son’s various medical problems and illnesses have made us very worried. He has passed kidney stones under great pain four times without any treatment. He has had serious stomach problems and lost four of his teeth. He has even suffered from heart palpitations because of all the stress in prison. He is still being denied outside medical treatment despite the prison doctor’s recommendation. I ask that you free my son and alleviate this great pain,” she wrote.

Omid Kokabee, 32, was a doctoral physics student at the University of Texas, who was arrested at Imam Khomeini Airport on January 30, 2011, as he was about to leave Iran to return to the U.S after visiting his family. After 15 months of detention, he was sentenced by Judge Salavati to 10 years in prison for “contact with enemy states (U.S.)” on May 14, 2012.

In an open letter from Evin Prison in 2013, Kokabee revealed that he had been arrested because he had turned down a request from Iranian security agents to cooperate on a military research project.

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Letter from Omid Kokabee’s mother to the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the release of her son

In the Name of the Just and Wise God

“If [instead] you show [some] good or conceal it or pardon an offense – indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Competent.” – Qoran, Chapter 4, Verse 149

With greetings and prayers to Your Excellency Ayatollah Khamenei,

I am a mother in pain. I have been separated from my son for more than 1,700 days. It has been and continues to be greatly painful for myself and his father. We spend the days believing and hoping and praying to God for our son’s freedom from prison because we believe we have raised good children. We have taken every legal avenue to free our son but there are those who close the legal channels. Today as a last resort we are petitioning to seek your help.

Your Excellency,

We have often heard and read the news that you are insistent on scientific progress and you believe that the way to save the country from foreign enemies is to arm ourselves with the latest science and you give special importance to students and universities. We hope this last request of ours will not go unanswered.

For the fifth consecutive year, when the academic year begins, in a country whose leader emphasizes scientific progress so much, I ask myself, should Omid be studying in class, or in the corner of a prison cell? Do not let us repeat this question again this year. I ask the Supreme Leader, who I know is a great fan of books and always encourages our dear university students to read more, to order the release of my dear Omid on the occasion of the opening of schools. He is the son of this very land and was thanked and commended for winning a medal in the [Physics] Olympiad…when he met you as a member of a group of top students in 2003. Return him to where he belongs, that is in the arms of learning and academia, on the occasion of the reopening of schools and universities.

My son, like all the children of our dear country, wishes Iran’s glory. Just like in his childhood when he brought honors for the country, he wants to continue to study and do research in our universities.

My son Omid is one of our nine children who have each been blessed by Mighty God with unique talents. As a teacher, their father worked hard to raise them. And now all of them, who were among students with the highest scores in university entrance exams in the holy state of the Islamic Republic, are currently studying or serving our dear country Iran.

I do not want to get into the details of the case. I know, if you want, you can get information about my son from your trusted neutral sources (not those who fabricated this case) and see that he really has not committed any sin. What greater proof than last year the Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in the country, found my son to be innocent of the false and baseless charges against him and ordered his case be reviewed? We were hoping to see my son back home and in university, but shockingly the parallel court again reinstated the previous sentence without a single line of logical and legal reasoning, against the judgement of Supreme Court – the highest judicial authority in the country. Unfortunately my innocent son is still in Evin Prison. Even if he was guilty, by law he should have been qualified to receive parole after serving a third of his sentence. Or he should have been included in pardons for various holy occasions. But he is even being denied his legal rights so as to stop those like him from loving their country.

My son has not been back to studying or doing homework for almost four years. In fact they even prevent him from reading books about physics. They tell him not to read. But books are his greatest pleasure. Ever since he was five, even before he went to school, my son loved books. He knew books were the path to light and he considered them sacred.

In all this time, nearly five years, my son has not been given furlough even for an hour, either for medical reasons or to see his family. This is against prison procedures, even for political prisoners. And despite repeated requests and follow-ups, my son has never been allowed to meet his lawyer to discuss his case.

Unfortunately after five years in prison, my son’s various medical problems and illnesses have made us very worried. He has passed kidney stones under great pain four times without any treatment. He has had serious stomach problems and lost four of his teeth. He has even suffered from heart palpitations because of all the stress in prison. He is still being denied outside medical treatment despite the prison doctor’s recommendation. I ask that you free my son and alleviate this great pain.

Safar Bibi Haghnazari