Wrongfully imprisoned PhD student Omid Kokabee has reportedly been released from prison for temporary medical leave, according to Nature.
Mr. Kokabee, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence on charges of “communicating with a hostile government,” was diagnosed with kidney cancer in April 2016. Since 2011, Mr. Kokabee has reported experiencing medical issues, including internal bleeding and kidney stones, for which the prison infirmary reportedly prescribed painkillers but which otherwise went untreated. Authorities transferred Mr. Kokabee to a prison hospital for an April 20 surgery to remove his cancerous right kidney.
Nature reports that Mr. Kokabee’s friends posted a bail of 5 billion Iranian rials ($165,000 USD) to secure his temporary release. While the leave must be renewed every two weeks, his friends hope to appeal the authorities to permit Mr. Kokabee a longer medical leave.
Scholars at Risk and its supporters have written on Mr. Kokabee’s behalf since 2011 when he was arrested at an airport in Tehran after visiting his family during the winter vacation. Before his arrest Mr. Kokabee reportedly refused an offer by state scientists to work on military research for the Iranian government. Mr. Kokabee holds two advanced degrees in photonics and is an accomplished experimental laser physicist and doctoral student at the University of Texas, Austin.