Imprisoned Physicist Loses Kidney to Cancer, Must Be Released Permanently
Omid Kokabee’s Life Endangered by Years of Denied Medical Care in Iran Prison
April 21, 2016—Omid Kokabee, the young physicist who has been imprisoned in Iran for over 5 years for his refusal to work on military research, underwent surgery on April 20, 2016 to completely remove his right kidney, which was in an advanced stage of cancer.
Omid Kokabee should be immediately released permanently and unconditionally, so that he may receive full medical treatment, ending this long injustice that has directly endangered his life, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
“Kokabee’s cancer is a direct result of the years of denied medical care in prison,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Campaign.
“How many more political prisoners will be effectively given a death sentence because the authorities in Iran punish them further by withholding medical care?” asked Ghaemi.
An informed source told the Campaign that doctors treating Kokabee said because of the advanced stage of the cancer, he had to undergo immediate surgery. Kokabee’s right kidney was removed in Sina Hospital in Tehran yesterday.
The source said that the young scientist remained in pain after the surgery and that treatment of his multiple other illnesses, including serious digestive illness, had been put on hold while the cancer was being addressed.
Kokabee’s cancer was only recently diagnosed because prison authorities had refused to treat his repeated reports of pain, bleeding and other complications for years following multiple bouts of kidney stones. The family’s repeated requests over the past several months for medical furlough (temporary leave) for testing and treatment were denied. He was not transferred to specialists in hospital, but rather given painkillers in the prison infirmary, until his condition became critical and he was finally taken to hospital. As a result, a large malignant tumor in his kidney progressed.
In an April 2013 open letter from Evin Prison to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, Kokabee wrote that he was imprisoned for refusing an offer from the Iranian intelligence establishment to collaborate on a military research project. Kokabee is currently serving a ten-year sentence for “contact with enemy states.”
“Kokabee has been eligible for parole for two years, yet judicial authorities have refused to release him,” said Ghaemi, “Rouhani must press the Judiciary to answer for this.”
Thirty-one Nobel Physics laureates called for his release in October 2014, the American Physical Society awarded their 2014 Andrei Sakharov Prize to Kokabee, and the Committee of Concerned Scientists published an open letter on January 30, 2016 to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calling for Kokabee’s unconditional release.