This letter was sent to the Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, and Shadow Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, on behalf of myself and 19 Australian scientists.
Dear Hon. Mr. Carr and Hon. Mrs. Bishop,
Recently Omid Kokabee, an Iranian graduate student in physical optics, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in Iran for “communicating with a hostile government” after spending time abroad at the Institute for Photonic Science in Barcelona and the University of Texas in Austin. He had already spent 15 months in prison pre-trial. He has consistently denied all allegations and no credible evidence was presented against him in his court proceedings. His field of work does not include nuclear physics.
As a group of concerned Australian scientists, dedicated to the ideas of open science, freedom of travel and open scientific collaboration and communication, we are writing to you to request that you use all diplomatic means at your disposal to ensure that Mr. Kokabee receives a fair trial.
Australia has a proud history of fostering open scientific collaboration and communication, and we have many high quality Iranian scientists working in Australia. It is therefore important that a precedent be set both domestically and at the international level that prosecuting scientists, who are neither activists nor involved in sensitive government work, is unacceptable and undermines scientific progress and the notion of a free society. Iranian scientists contributing to science in Australia, of which there are many, should never have to live in the fear that upon returning home they may be prosecuted.
We sincerely hope you will review the details of this case and use your status as Foreign Minister and Shadow Foreign Minister respectively to push for Iran to give Mr. Kokabee a fair trial.
A Nature Magazine report of the story can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/iranian-physicist-sentenced-to-prison-1.10642