Imprisoned physicist Omid Kokabee was transferred to Taleghani Hospital in Tehran on November 24, 2015, suffering from severe kidney stones, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. For the past two months he had been in intense pain and suffering various complications from numerous untreated ailments.
“Omid has been suffering from kidney problems for four or five years. He has passed stones in prison without hospitalization many times. But the recent pains were too much and eventually he was taken to hospital,” the source added.
In December 2014, a group of 161 PhD students called on the authorities in Iran to pay immediate attention to Kokabee’s medical problems.
Since last year, the 33-year-old physicist has been held in Evin Prison’s Ward 7, which lacks basic facilities in window-less rooms with poor ventilation. In addition to his kidney illness, Kokakee suffers from heart, digestive, and severe dental problems.
Kokabee was arrested at Imam Khomeini Airport on January 30, 2011, after visiting family in Iran. He was returning to the United States to continue his PhD studies in physics at the University of Texas. He was accused of “contact with enemy states” and sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Salavati on May 14, 2012. His appeal was rejected.
In an April 2013 open letter from Evin prison, Kokabee wrote his imprisonment was the result of his refusal to heed pressure by Iranian intelligence agents to collaborate on a military research project.
In October 2014, 31 Nobel Physics laureates joined thousands of activists calling for the young Iranian physicist’s release.
In a letter addressed to supreme leader Ali Khamenei on the first day of the Iranian academic year (September 23, 2015), Kokabee’s mother Safar Bibi Haghnazari pleaded for his release.
“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.