Iran arrests studying abroad student on charges of spying : www.iranhrc.org
Hamid Babaei was a PhD student at the University of Liege, in Belgium. Shortly, after returning to Tehran to visit his family, he was summoned to the Intelligent Service of Iran for questioning in July 2013. When he refused to cooperate in passing information about Iranians in Belgium he was arrested and transferred to prison. Later, he was charged with “communicating with hostile foreign governments and spying”. Mr Hamid Babaie completed his master degree on Industrial Engineering in Iran University of Science and Technology in 2008 and was granted a scholarship by the University of Liege, in Belgium for a PhD course in 2009. After 3 years and 7 months through his PhD program, in the summer of 2013 Mr. Babaei and his wife decided to visit their families in Iran. According to the information obtained, after his arrest Mr. Babaei was transferred to ward 204 of the Evin prison and spent 20 days in solitary confinement. Then, he was transferred to ward 209 and finally after a total of 35 days he was moved to ward 350 of the Evin prison on the 18 September 2013. On 21 December, in the Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court presided by the infamous Judge Salvati , he was sentenced to six years imprisonment and 4 years suspended in prison. According to his wife In this Court Mr. Babaei was denied the right to have his own lawyer and without informing him someone was chosen to represent him. In the 10 minutes trial period, the lawyer was silent and Mr. Babaei was also personally denied to speak for his defense. Interrogating students who study abroad and return home is not something unprecedented in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In February 2011, Omid Kokabee, Olympiad Award winner and postdoctoral student in atomic physics at the University of Texas majoring laser was arrested in Iran after returning from the United States to visit his family. Kokabee claimed that he was arrested after a meeting with the vice president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and denying to collaborate with the Organization.the Islamic Republic was trying to obtain his collaboration for Iranian nuclear program. During campaigns for presidency, Mr Hassan Rohani promised the release of political prisoners and respect for civil rights of Iranians. Unfortunately, and so far the manner of summoning citizens and arbitrary arrests of Iranian has remained intact after Mr Rohani’s presidency. On Wednesday, 6 November 2013,Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Ghashghavi said that Mr Rohani has asked several ministries, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Foreign Ministry to form a committee for the return of Iranians from abroad. Mohammad Javad Zarif , Iran’s foreign minister, believes the reason for many Iranians not to return home is due to ” the propaganda by the opposition groups”. Mr Ghashghavi said: “I think many of these fears are self-made and have no real foundation”. But unlike Mr. Ghashghavi’s claims, Hamid Babaei had no political activity during studying abroad. Nevertheless, he was detained because he refused to cooperate with the Ministry of Intelligence. Spying and communicating with hostile governments has always been a pretext to suppress dissent and detain and imprison Iranians. At the moment, Mr. Shaheen Dadkhah, Mehrdad Sarjoyi , Dr. Rahman Ghahreman pour, Omid Kokabee, Homayon Rostayi, Ali Amiri, Captain Yaghob Maleki, Ali Alayi and many other well-known Iranians are in prison with the similar charges (spying and communicating with hostile governments). It seems that Mr. Hamid Babaei is one of the latest victims of this kind of suppression after he refused to cooperate with the intelligence and security services.