University of Texas graduate student and SPIE member Omid Kokabee, imprisoned in Iran since January 2011, has been granted a new trial, according to his lawyer.
Kokabee was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly conspiring with foreign countries against Iran. He had been charged with communicating with a hostile government and receiving illegal earnings. Now, attorney Saeed Khalili says that the initial verdict has been voided by Iran's supreme court. Khalili was quoted on the website of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Kokabee's imprisonment has generated international calls for his release, including a letter from the European Optical Society, the Optical Society (OSA), and SPIE in 2012 and another last month signed by 28 Nobel Prize winners. Meanwhile, Kokabee's health is said to be deteriorating in prison -- yet he still has managed to submit technical papers to international conferences, although he was not allowed to attend. Kokabee also wrote a letter to Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, winner of the Fields Medal and the first woman ever so honored.
The Iranian human rights website also quoted Kokabee's congratulations to Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford University. He said her win was the "happiest news I have heard in prison over the recent years, and as an academic individual, a young Iranian, and a fellow-alumni of Sharif Technical University, I take pride in this from the bottom of my heart."