SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 15, 2018

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Imperial College London

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 15, 2018, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly arrested Abbas Edalat, a British-Iranian professor of computer science and mathematics at the Imperial College London, on charges of espionage, apparently connected to his non-violent political activism.

Professor Edalat is an anti-war activist and the founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII), an independent organization aimed, among other things, at opposing foreign sanctions, foreign state interference and military intervention in Iran. Professor Edalat maintains a home in Tehran and has been a regular commentator on Iranian state media.

Professor Edalat was in Iran to attend an academic workshop when the IRGC reportedly raided his Tehran home, confiscated his belongings including his computer, CDs, and note books. On April 15, 2018, IRGC officials arrested him, reportedly based on allegations that CASMII is a British-affiliated anti-Iran group. Authorities further claim that CASMII conducted espionage operations and had contacts with leaders of anti-government protests in 2009.

Professor Edalat’s family reportedly posted bail for him on April 21; however, Iranian authorities later claimed that there was a problem with the documentation provided to them in connection with Professor Edalat’s bail application and ordered the process restarted; on April 25, Professor Edalat refused bail, arguing that he is innocent and, should be cleared outright of all charges. Professor Edalat remains detained as of this report.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary arrest and detention of a scholar, in apparent retaliation for the exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the exercise of the rights to nonviolent expression or association, and to ensure that the rights of the accused, including due process and fair trial are protected.


Iran Detains Another Iranian British Citizen, Computer Scientist and Antiwar Activist Abbas Edalat