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Lasers & Sources

Omid Kokabee released after five years in Iranian jail

SPIE Newsroom
31 August 2016

University of Texas graduate student and SPIE member Omid Kokabee, convicted of espionage in Iran five years ago, has been granted freedom on parole.University of Texas (UT) graduate student and SPIE member Omid Kokabee, convicted of espionage in Iran five years ago, has been granted freedom on parole.

Kokabee, an Iranian citizen, was a first-year doctoral student in physics at UT when he was arrested in Tehran in January 2011 while attempting to return to the US after visiting his family. Convicted of  espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison, Kokabee maintains he was arrested for refusing to work with the Iranian military to develop nuclear weapons.

Kokabee was granted medical leave in May and has been living at home while recovering from kidney cancer and other ailments attributed to harsh conditions in prison. He was eligible for parole after completing one-third of his 10-year sentence, although at this time, it's unclear how the terms of his parole will be defined.

Saeed Khalili, Kokabee's lawyer, was quoted in the government-owned IRAN Daily as saying his client will "enjoy conditional freedom" and "will not return to prison anymore."

During his incarceration, Kokabee received the support of several scientific and human-rights organizations around the world. Petitions calling for his release included a letter signed by more than 30 Nobel laureates.

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