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Four international groups appeal to Iran for release of optics student

31 August 2011

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- SPIE has joined with an international organization and two other professional societies in appealing to the leadership of Iran to free Omid Kokabee, an Iranian PhD student.

Kokabee, 29, is a graduate of Sharif University of Technology in Tehran who later studied at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Spain where he obtained a master's degree in photonics. Currently he is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Physics. He is a Member of SPIE.

Earlier this year, after a visit to his family in Iran, Kokabee was arrested at the airport and imprisoned.

Charged with communicating with a hostile government and receiving illegal earnings, Kokabee was scheduled to go on trial in July, but the date has been postponed indefinitely. According to sources, he is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran.

In the letter addressed to Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the presidents of four optical societies appeal for a quick review of Kokabee's case so that he can resume his research at the start of the academic year.

"We value the contributions that Mr. Kokabee has made to the field of optics and expect him to become a respected member of the research community if he is allowed to continue his studies," the letter says. It also refers to the valuable contributions of Iranian scientists to the global research community.

The letter is signed by presidents Hervé Lefèvre (European Optical Society), María Luisa Calvo Padilla (International Commission for Optics), Christopher Dainty (OSA), and Katarina Svanberg (SPIE). A PDF of the letter is posted online.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. SPIE provided over $2.3 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2010.


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