SPIE Member Omid Kokabee, a graduate student at the University of Texas, went on trial October 4 in his native Iran, charged with having relations with a hostile country and receiving illegitimate funds.
It's not yet clear why the authorities in Tehran arrested Kokabee, says Abbas Milani, director of Iranian studies at Stanford University. Domestic criticism of the recent release of two American hikers has touched various political power centers in Tehran, especially the judiciary, says Milani. Just how Kokabee's case may intersect with these others is not clear, but it is in the hands of the judiciary, he notes.
On August 31, SPIE President Katarina Svanberg signed a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in which the presidents of four optical organizations appeal for a quick review of Kokabee's case so that he can resume his research.
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.
Iran Charges Student Who Was In the U.S. (NPR)
SPIE press release
Letter from four presidents to Iran's Supreme Leader (PDF)