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Iranian Physics Student From UT Gets 10 Years In Jail For Spying

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the darn-it-we-just-got-canada-taken-care-of dept.

Science 253

scibri writes "Omid Kokabee, a laser physics graduate student from the University of Texas who has been imprisoned in Tehran for the past 15 months, was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Sunday for allegedly conspiring with foreign countries against Iran. Kokabee was arrested in February 2011 while on a trip home, and charged with 'communicating with a hostile government' (i.e. Israel) and 'illegal earnings.' He has consistently denied the charges, and refused to speak at his trial, where no evidence against him was presented. Several international science groups, including the American Physical Society, have spoken up in his defense, and an online petition has been set up in support."

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253 comments

Nothing new here (5, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#40009545)

Sadly, this is a very common theme with the Iranian Government. Usually this is to get the person on board with them. They get out when they are on-board, and often family members are jailed to be sure that they stay on-board.

As long as crap is in power, crap like this happens. How many brilliant people did Stalin and Hitler kill? So many that we have no way of knowing.

Re:Nothing new here (5, Insightful)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#40009571)

It sounds like the trial-less imprisonment here in the US. He's a "terrorist" and doesn't deserve a (fair) trial.

Re:Nothing new here (1, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#40009633)

Agreed. Except the part about the trial having no evidence presented.

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40010057)

Riiiiiiiiiiight.

Re:Nothing new here (5, Insightful)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 2 years ago | (#40010065)

What's the difference between a trial with no evidence, and a trial with classified evidence that the defense is not allowed to see or contest?

What's the difference if you're held in prison for "indefinite detention", and you have never been charged, and you cannot file a habeas corpus petition to determine if the government even has any evidence to justify imprisoning you? At least in this case, there was a trial. That's more than some folks at Gitmo get.

Re:Nothing new here (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#40010373)

Here, the entire "plot" is woven, whole cloth by the "investigative" agency. Dupes are recruited from the targeted population to execute the plot, under the continuous supervision and motivation by agency operatives. Ultimately, the "plotters" are intercepted for their stage-managed arrest and exposure.

In Iran? Well, they first apprehend someone who has a detectable pattern of contact with hostile, foreign governments and provable omissions in record and testimony.

After that? They are both foregone conclusions.

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009649)

Nah, we only do that to cab drivers

Re:Nothing new here (0, Troll)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#40009669)

How on earth did this get modded up? This is so far away from the US that it's laughable that this would not be modded down into oblivion — even on slashdot.

Oh, I forgot — this is where people somehow don't realize that there is an actual difference between the West and actual tyranny and oppression in the world.

Re:Nothing new here (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40009699)

This is so far away from the US that it's laughable

Agreed. In the U.S. he'd never get a trial.

Re:Nothing new here (0, Troll)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#40009763)

Yeah, it's weird how people who have been suspected of espionage against the United States don't get trials.

Oh, wait... :-/

Re:Nothing new here (2)

Rakshasa-sensei (533725) | about 2 years ago | (#40009835)

When your government decided to give a fuck about legalities and do what ever they wanted with 'enemy combatants'... What did you expect people to think?

Your (and any other) country is only as fair and righteous as what it did in the living memory of those wronged. That is why the Bush years were so devastating; no matter what Obama does the period between 2001 and 2008 very much defines how the rest of the world looks at the US.

Torturing people is wrong? Says 'dictator A', ok... We'll only do sleep depravation, water-boarding and electro-shocks to the balls, cause that's legal, lol.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#40009889)

Wait.. did anything change after Obama came into office?
Didn't Obama just sign a law allowing indefinite detention without trial?
Is there any real difference between Bush and Obama?

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Rakshasa-sensei (533725) | about 2 years ago | (#40009935)

Obama isn't as blatant about it, at least he pretends to be a good guy.

Not that I find it acceptable...

Re:Nothing new here (2)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#40010149)

Obama isn't as blatant about it, at least he pretends to be a good guy.

Doesn't that make it worse instead of better? I figure an honest scoundrel is better than a guy who tells you he's on your side while he's stepping on your head.

Not that I find it acceptable...

Of course not.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009911)

Obama has carried on the Bush ideals. So the US simply went from crazy to batshit insane.
If Bush is ever convicted for crimes against humanity then so does his little black friend.
Republicans, Democrats words without meaning anymore. Both parties are total whores for the militray-security industrial complex.

Re:Nothing new here (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#40009681)

I was wondering how long it would be before some sheltered fool claimed America was just as bad.

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009711)

Well... we are...

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009807)

No, we're not. Like, at all.

The fact that you even claim so proves your utter ignorance, and I hope you never live under actual oppression.

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40010119)

The fact that this well-educated Iranian, who has lived in both countries, switched his allegiance would attest to there being a difference.

Re:Nothing new here (4, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40009771)

I was wondering how long it would be before some sheltered fool claimed America was just as bad.

Actually [wordpress.com], it [wordpress.com] is [motherboard.tv] somewhat [aljunnah.com] worse [thepeoplesvoice.org].

Re:Nothing new here (1)

swb (14022) | about 2 years ago | (#40009919)

You're right, our version of "honor killing" is much worse here. We kill the young woman involved and a couple of puppies and a pony, too, for good measure. Can't let those Persians out-honor-killing us.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Uberbah (647458) | about 2 years ago | (#40010451)

Non-response. He's talking legal system, you're talking vigilantes. And those vigilantes aren't violating their Bill of Rights left and right.

So, got any relevant comparisons to make?

Re:Nothing new here (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40009877)

I believe you're mistaken in calling the parent a "sheltered fool".

We've suspended Habeus Corpus for anyone branded a terrorist. We've suspended the 4th Amendment any time the NSA wants to wiretap all phone traffic. We torture people. We have secret evidence in trials, which defense attorneys can't see. And National Security Letters can make it a crime to even talk about what the government is up to, even if it's illegal.

So we have a government capable of *exactly* what Iran did to this guy.

And if you're arguing that America isn't as bad because we don't to it as often, there are two points to be made. First, Bigby never talked about how the relative frequency of this kind of trial in the U.S. vs. Iran; just that the U.S. has done these things at least once in recent history. Secondly, given that our our handling of alleged terrorism is secret, none of us has real information on how often the U.S. conducts "trials" of the sort Iran did with this guy.

Re:Nothing new here (2)

Marillion (33728) | about 2 years ago | (#40010493)

Of course there are horrible oppressive regimes out there. The depravity they inflict upon their citizens is an abomination to basic human dignities. Iran is a notable and relevant example of such a regime. While the US is scarcely anywhere near as bad as Iran or any of a dozen or more similar regimes, the point that's trying to be made is that liberties and freedoms basic human dignities have been steadily eroding in the name of defending the US from terrorism. Also, there is no sense that anyone in power or "the mainstream" has any interest in reversing the trend.

Always happens quick (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#40010503)

There are a lot of very narcissistic people on Slashdot and any discussion that isn't about America they seem to need to find a way to redirect it to the US as soon as they can. I can never be a discussion about civil rights in another nation, they have to try and steer the debate right back around to America so they can do more whining and make more things about themselves.

It is extremely annoying, and precisely as expected for this site.

Re:Nothing new here (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40009739)

in usa you don't get a mock trial.. ok, technically in cuba you don't get a mock trial if you're hold by the u.s authorities.

in iran, they don't need evidence, just that the other 10-15 guys(article wasn't more specific) confess after a beating.

Re:Nothing new here (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009813)

In the US you don't need evidence either. The government can simply tell the courts hey its a national security issue trust us. And that's it. The poor guy gets to rot in prison for undetermined time for completely made up charges.
Now in Europe on the other hand the courts can't judge you based on non disclosed evidence. Precisely to avoid the arbitrariness that underlies the modern US judicial system. Funny to think that european citizens are more protected from their govenments than US citenzens are from theirs.

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009941)

In the US you don't need evidence either. The government can simply tell the courts hey its a national security issue trust us. And that's it. The poor guy gets to rot in prison for undetermined time for completely made up charges.
Now in Europe on the other hand the courts can't judge you based on non disclosed evidence. Precisely to avoid the arbitrariness that underlies the modern US judicial system. Funny to think that european citizens are more protected from their govenments than US citenzens are from theirs.

BWWAAAA HAAAA HAAAA!

Yeah, it is funny. LOL funny - at YOUR sheltered ignorance.

Never seen the Palermo police beat the shit out of a miscreant after handcuffing him to a wrought iron fence, have you?

Re:Nothing new here (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40010117)

And you sir have a reading comprehension problem.
I'm talking about judicial guarantees, not police violence.

A court in europe cannot convict you based on undisclosed evidence. It has to be public, all public. Not so in the US. Get to terms with this slight difference.

Re:Nothing new here (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009779)

It sounds like the trial-less imprisonment here in the US. He's a "terrorist" and doesn't deserve a (fair) trial.

Well, except he is Iranian, and was arrested in Iran, had a trial in a Iranian civilian court, and is imprisoned in Iran.

Other than that, sure it's totally like all those people imprisoned in the US without trial.

Re:Nothing new here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009839)

Any of you idiots who think American is just as bad or worse than freaking Iran, need to get the hell out and never come back. Idiots. God you people are freaking stupid.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40009901)

That, or the imprisonment of completely harmless individuals for completely harmless acts, after giving them a fair trial at a jury of their peers. The US likes to act like it's better than Iran, but it engages in persecution of its own people too.

Re:Banality of evil (0)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#40010045)

You're quite right about that. The unjust punishment of the Jews and Gypsies and other "undesirables" was a horrible event in human history.... but so too was the "holocaust" of the first world war which no one ever hears about any longer.

The worst part is, the holocaust as originally described is no longer considered to be the truth according to the current version of the truth put out by the various holocaust historians and museums and would not have resulted in the execution of many "war criminals" were it not for the lies and exaggerations of the accusers which remained unpunished.

There's lots of truth about the terrible things done under the Hitler administration to be learned. But since most people generally accept the premise that was given to them, an entire people were characterized as monsters capable of unbelievable evil where the reality was much different. But people do not want to learn the truth... they are comfortable with what they were told regardless of how ridiculous and impossible it would be.

This balanity of evil goes is all directions, I'm afraid. And the more recently, the official 9-11 story which simply doesn't work out right according to experts in the field of aviation and more. People want to believe their government.

And yeah... here I go getting modded troll again because people react the same way each time... "holocaust was a lie? TROLL!!" "The 9-11 story is literally impossible? TROLL!!"

But please note that I did not say the holocaust is a lie. What I did say, specifically, is that the stories of the holocaust have changed VERY dramatically over the years and the severity and numbers reduced significantly as "deniers" have proven their cases over and over again. The official keepers of the truth have, in fact, changed their story... to their credit, they have not denied it when they were wrong.

But if we are to believe our scholars and experts, which we generally do in most cases, why are we believing the "official story" when it's so obviously impossible?

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009715)

..and then the CIA or Mossad murders you.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40009905)

Here's a tip for all Iranians outside Iran. Don't go back. No matter how much you miss the kin and pine for the fjords, if you can manage it, don't go back.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40010469)

This is exactly what I was thinking reading the summary. Why in the hell would you even remotely think about going back? Yes, I'm aware family is there. Hell, you could have a massive swath of land that you own, a family, and a basket of kittens waiting for you there.

But this is an educated person. This isn't just some random agorophobe who hasn't looked at a TV, newspaper, or the internet for the past 5 years. You absolutely, unequivocally KNOW that there is some serious, severe anti-'anything-not-them' mentality over there. Those in power hate the everloving shit out of anything that doesn't strictly follow their exact line of thought. Obtaining a significant amount of 'western education' is basically akin to holding up a sign pointing down at you saying 'DEAR CORRUPT GOVERNMENT: I'M AGAINST EVERYTHING YOU LOVE, AND BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HATE! PLEASE MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF ME'.

It's not exactly rocket science that they threw him in prison. If for some reason Canada became a society like Iran, murdering people for the minorest of slights against their bizarre, thousand-year-old beliefs, but I managed to leave... you can be damn sure that there isn't a force on earth that would make me go back without fighting to the end. I wouldn't even remotely think of going back to my land or wife or whatever, I'd be spending every dollar and every minute of the day trying to get them out and over HERE (wherever I moved to).

Long story short, it was naive as fuck of him to even remotely think of going back. Shit deal he got, and unfair as hell... but it's not like he couldn't have seen the very distinct, real possibility of this happening. I'd honestly be surprised if most people over here were doing everything they could to convince him not to travel back there.

Also... 10 years? Pfft, I'm not even remotely naive enough to believe that he'll ever leave that prison. The only way he'll ever be leaving there is in a body bag.

Is Iran crazy? (1, Flamebait)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40009589)

He's the last nuclear physicist in the country that Mossad hasn't killed, and they're sending him to prison?!?

Re:Is Iran crazy? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#40009737)

Laser physicist. Not a lot of use in making nuclear weapons. If they'd arrested an actual nuclear physicist, I'd consider it plausible they have a secret lab where enslaved scientists are forced to work on weapons research. But I imagine the TSA is already watching for any American nuclear physicists who might wish to go to Iran and is ready to have them turned back at the airport.

Re:Is Iran crazy? (5, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#40009775)

If they next imprison a biologist specializing in cold blooded, carnivorous sea fauna, we know what's going on!

Re:Is Iran crazy? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009809)

Go ask a nuclear physicist (I am actually one) if lasers have an application in some of the more difficult to solve problems in making nuclear weapons. You may be surprised by the answer.

Re:Is Iran crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009883)

Laser physicists can be used for uranium enrichment without centrifuges. The process is mentioned here [nrc.gov], but was created in Australia. Yes, it's plausible they're trying to use him.

Re:Is Iran crazy? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40009767)

well, he had a life outside iran too and that he wasn't dead is clear evidence that he must be working with mossad.

maybe mossad should target the mock trial judges though? or the iranian resistance should(it exists.. they carry out the bike bombings etc inside iran).

Re:Is Iran crazy? (1)

anonymousNR (1254032) | about 2 years ago | (#40010427)

Maybe thats the only way they can protect him from Mossad under tight security. Who knows what happens behind the walls of the prison.

Online Petition (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009597)

Oh shit. A fucking online petition. Those Iranian guys a really wishing that they hadn't fucked with that grad student.

Re:Online Petition (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40009657)

Hey, they're also totally going to hold a sit-in and bake sale as soon as the Fall semester starts.

Re:Online Petition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009727)

what about a car wash and lemonade stand

Re:Online Petition (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#40009791)

Oh c'mon, every time we have a serious discussion someone has to come out and ridicule it.

Re:Online Petition (1)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#40010005)

Didn't I see on the news today that Iran just hanged a student accused of working for Israel? The online petition idea didn't work out for that guy, so I doubt it will do much for this guy either.

Re:Online Petition (2)

jonadab (583620) | about 2 years ago | (#40010397)

Indeed. I have some difficulty imagining that an online petition signed by a bunch of physics students and professors -- most of whom are foreigners -- could convince an elected, first-world government to take (or not take) any particular action. The idea that it might matter to the government of Iran is patently absurd.

No evidence at all? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009601)

I'm glad I live in the US, where the kangaroo courts NEVER forget their kangaroos (freshly extradited from Australia)

Was I the only one who thought that the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009609)

imprisoned him?

The worst thing is that it isn't far-fetched at all.

IT'S PRETTY BAD WHEN A PERSIAN !! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009653)

spies for the Jews, the sworn enemy of his desert homeland !! Next time, DON'T GET CAUGHT !!

Puts things in perspective (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#40009687)

It DOES put things into perspective, especially for people who like to complain about teh evil government in America taking away their rights, when there are governments which REALLY abuse their own people.

We have a LONG way to go before the West descends into such a farce. Or at least I hope so -- the evangelical dominionists don't have anything in their ideology remotely like what they have in Iran, where they can call you "mohareb" and just kill you.

Re:Puts things in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009765)

evangelical dominionists?

You sound nuttier than the mad mullahs.

Re:Puts things in perspective (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40009789)

the evangelical dominionists don't have anything in their ideology remotely like what they have in Iran, where they can call you "mohareb" and just kill you.

Well, extreme right wing would normally call you "traitor", with the same connotations. They'd probably execute people for it, too - if their blogs and such are anything to go by - it's just that they're not in power (yet?).

Re:Puts things in perspective (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40009937)

We have a LONG way to go before the West descends into such a farce.

Not as long as Cannabis is illegal. If the US can maintain the illusion that Cannabis(which is less harmful than most OTC drugs) is so dangerous that we have to lock people in cages for multiple decades just for growing it, what can't they do?

Re:Puts things in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009953)

Actually, you don't have that long to wait. The DHS is already in place, the constitution free zone has passed beyond the original 100 miles from border or shore to include the entire United States, you only have rights if the police arrest you, if DHS detains you you have no rights whatsoever, the concentration camps and mass produced coffins have already been built and stockpiled for the dissident citizens. Heck, check out the FBI definition of a local terrorist, some of the criteria is that the citizen often cites their rights under the constitution, pays for purchases with cash and tries to maintain some semblance of privacy.

It's amazing that this quote from Tolkien serves here. Denethor said, "The West has failed." I'd have to agree. What difference is it if your rights are taken by religious zealots or those fighting the zealots. The end result is the same.

Re:Puts things in perspective (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#40010023)

If I were forced to choose (heaven forbid), then I think I'd take my chance with the secularists.

You can at least reason with people who don't take orders from invisible friends.

Re:Puts things in perspective (1)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#40010091)

If I were forced to choose (heaven forbid), then I think I'd take my chance with the secularists.
You can at least reason with people who don't take orders from invisible friends.

You think so? I wonder how many of the middle-class farmers in Russia thought the same way you did.
They probably tried reasoning with the secularists right up til the time the bullet passed between their eyes.

Re:Puts things in perspective (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 2 years ago | (#40010179)

It DOES put things into perspective, especially for people who like to complain about teh evil government in America taking away their rights, when there are governments which REALLY abuse their own people.

"Things could be worse" doesn't translate into "things are good."

And this should serve as a warning for what happens when you allow governments to run rampant.

This says it all. (2)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#40009731)

He has consistently denied the charges, and refused to speak at his trial, where no evidence against him was presented.

You're guilty because we say so.

Re:This says it all. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#40009825)

Well, I don't know about legal practice in Iran, maybe that's how it is? You're accused, your prosecutor thinks you did it and if you don't defend yourself, it means you agree?

Not as implausible as it may sound, I mean, it's something similar here in civil court. You don't show up, you're losing by default.

Re:This says it all. (1)

butchersong (1222796) | about 2 years ago | (#40009983)

In Iran what we normally think of as evidence has little to do with it typically. They seem to rely much more heavily on confessions than evidence in trial and pretty much everyone in Iran knows the confessions they get are a joke. Basically you are imprisoned, tormented until you confess and they tell you exactly what to confess and who else to implicate. They then broadcast these confessions and the average Iranian rolls their eyes because they know they are a joke but there's nothing anyone can do.

Re:This says it all. (1)

Blindman (36862) | about 2 years ago | (#40010301)

Even in the face of no opposition, a Plaintiff doesn't automatically win. The Plaintiff still has the burden of proving entitlement to a favorable judgment. Unlike a forfeit in sports, you still have to play the game in Court.

Not Quite "His" Trial (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40009743)

and refused to speak at his trial

From the Nature article

Judge Abolghasem Salavati of Branch 15 of Tehran's Revolution Court — who is famous for his harsh sentences — tried 10 to 15 people in the same trial, under the collective charge of collaborating with Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad.

Hardly "his" trial now, wasn't it? From the sound of it, it was just 10-15 students they all accused of the same thing with some of them (like Sina Zahiri [iranian.com]) confessing in order to reduce their sentences. Of course, Zahiri's accusation is contact with Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (completely unrelated to the Mossad). So now that Zahiri has confessed, Iran has "evidence" that they can now use to justify counter attacks or assassinations or arrests or whatever.

I'm sure in Kokabee's case, he'd have a lighter sentence if he just said that Israel is doing all the stuff of which they accuse him. Because then Iran has evidence to start some international shit (by the way, I am by no means claiming Israel has no such operations inside Iran).

Re:Not Quite "His" Trial (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40009867)

(by the way, I am by no means claiming Israel has no such operations inside Iran).

Count on it. Unfortunately for these students, Iran won't be able to find any of them. Every military facility they have is heavily surveilled, documented, and they have US intelligence resources assisting them with satellite time, technology, and financial resources, amongst other things. Iran is desperate to plug that hole, but frankly they're heavily outmatched and being sanctioned and sabotaged every step of the way. Their only real option is to try to win in the court of public opinion: And traditionally, that's done with show trials and confessions, Soviet style. (They aren't the first, or the last, just the most well-known).

Brain Drain in Iran (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40010097)

Iran is desperate to plug that hole, but frankly they're heavily outmatched and being sanctioned and sabotaged every step of the way.

If you're imposing strict social codes [wikipedia.org] with ridiculously harsh laws while trying to compete with super powers, you're going to have a bad time.

It's true the USSR and US played a big part in turning Iran into the screw up it is today but at some point the people have gotta turn it around if they don't want to end up completely like North Korea. Smart people don't want to live in places where smart people are bothered and executed. Smart people also can't be told where to live -- they're smart and they figure out ways around that.

Re:Brain Drain in Iran (1)

Uberbah (647458) | about 2 years ago | (#40010369)

but at some point the people have gotta turn it around if they don't want to end up completely like North Korea.

Turn [salon.com] what around? [businessinsider.com]

Re:Not Quite "His" Trial (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 2 years ago | (#40010001)

It's more likely he gets 10 yrs for not agreeing to work on Iran's nuke program when asked...and for asking to return to the US to finish his studies. Thus he must be a spy.

I feel for the student, but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009777)

If you're American, you have lost the moral high ground just under a decade ago. Yes, the trial was likely just for show. Yes, the student was probably innocent (although the CIA is known to have used students in the past as spies, so you never know). But 90% of the inmates at Gitmo were innocent as well, and they didn't even get a show trial. The only ones to get a trial are those for which the US Government actually have evidence of wrong doing. But most of the rest were sold to US forces by Afghans from rival tribes, or just by people out for a quick buck.

So yes, the grad student should be released, unless real evidence can be provided to back up the claim of spying. But Americans should leave the outrage to those who have a right, by their refusal to participate in their little games, to complain. This is what happens when you scrap the Geneva conventions: you have lost the moral high ground.

Re:I feel for the student, but... (2)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#40010043)

90% of the inmates at Gitmo were innocent as well, and they didn't even get a show trial.

No, they got free board and lodging in a tropical paradise instead of scrounging for food in a war-torn desert.

Re:I feel for the student, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40010075)

Then why do non-American Slashdotters still criticize the US? By your reasoning, European slashdotters lost the moral high ground centuries ago; Asian and Middle Eastern slashdotters lost the moral high ground millennias ago. Yet finger pointing persists. Perhaps individuals cannot lose the moral high ground by what their governments have done, and opinions like yours are worthless. Or perhaps you are right, and everyone should shut the hell up.

Re:I feel for the student, but... (1)

fa2k (881632) | about 2 years ago | (#40010209)

It's good that citizens complain about injustice and evil abroad, even though their own government is also injust and commits evil actions. Sure, US as a country doesn't have the moral high ground by more than a few inches, but it's better than to shut up.

The Iranian spotlight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009783)

No evidence against him, yet convicted anyways.

They had to, at least, have a trial, else it would have been cruel and unusual. Now the International community can't yell that he didn't get a trial, even if it was in a kangaroo court.

Iran is dooming themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009887)

A civilization (and I use the term loosely) that persecutes and imprisons its best and brightest is doomed. Unfortunately, they can cause a whole lot of misery for their citizens and for the rest of the world during their long, slow death spiral.

Re:Iran is dooming themselves (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40009973)

I imagine his "prison" will be a research facility. He was nabbed before he managed to complete his studies, get a job in the US or some other Western country and never returned.

Re:Iran is dooming themselves (0)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#40010211)

That's what religion begets and that's what superstitionists DESERVE.

Religion is literally mental illness, a delusion, so I can only wish their situation to get worse that it may provoke collapse.

So was he spying? (1)

doston (2372830) | about 2 years ago | (#40009895)

Personally, I wouldn't be real surprised. Realize that Israel does actively spy, and even spies on the US. http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE78645B20110907 [reuters.com] The US actively watches for Israeli spies. I'm not sure why the rush to assume the guy's innocent. Even tyrannical dictators usually have their reasons. I doubt the arrest was terribly politically expedient and I don't know that the guy has anything Iran needs. The evidence may not be presented the way we're accustomed to in the US and the sentence might be harsh, but that doesn't mean the guy is totally clean, either. And personally, I don't trust Israel any more than I trust Iran. Both ridiculously crooked governments with crazy right-wing dictators.

Re:So was he spying? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40009999)

Well, at least Mossad is getting smarter than trying to send 3 jewish students into Iran with a bunch of surveillance equipment, trying to claim they're on a fucking Iraqi hiking trip [wikipedia.org].

Re:So was he spying? (1)

doston (2372830) | about 2 years ago | (#40010233)

Well, at least Mossad is getting smarter than trying to send 3 jewish students into Iran with a bunch of surveillance equipment, trying to claim they're on a fucking Iraqi hiking trip [wikipedia.org].

That's the fucking Iraqi hiking trip I was trying to remember! Yeah, those people were obviously guilty, even from the western slanted news stories. I'm not as sure about this student, but I'd be willing to bet he was spying for Israel. If I had to bet, I'd be he was spying. On the hikers, I would have willingly bet everything I own that they were spying.

Re:So was he spying? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40010319)

You think they would have at least given them a decent cover story. Three arabic-speaking jews go from Syria to Iraq, via Israel. Their relatives are all closely tied to Israel. They show up on the Iranian border with spy gear, claiming they were going on a "nature hike" in one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Jesus, they may as well have been wearing "I'm a spy!" t-shirts. Pretty fucking cruel of Mossad to even allow that.

You can't go home (1)

Quila (201335) | about 2 years ago | (#40009907)

I know several Iranians, and none of them have been home in 30 years. They're not stupid enough to get caught up in the political tug of war between the US and Iran.

Why give him 10 years in jail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009909)

He must be innocent. If he were really a spy they'd do what the US and its allies do - murder him.

And if you want to drive them out of power... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40009955)

You'll support the Solar Tower project, and ban exports of oil and other fossil fuels.

Then so what? They won't be important to anybody, and they can pound sand if they like.

At least until some super-technological aliens arrive.

But that's decades away!

Oh Look! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40010011)

Someone caught someone theoretically spying for israel. Poor victim!

He is of course, innocent. Israel doesn't do anything wrong. Why would they! If you think they do you are a nazi and we'll sue your ass into the ghettos.

Of course I'm not israeli or jew. I'm totally unbiased.

Also, please join the JIDF today and fight the good (albeit non existant) fight!

Queue "But the US..." comment in 3... 2... 1... (2)

Dave Emami (237460) | about 2 years ago | (#40010051)

... nevermind, I'm too late.

Re:Queue "But the US..." comment in 3... 2... 1... (0)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40010135)

So we should just ignore the fact that the U.S. tortures prisoners, holds them without habeas corpus or trial indefinitely, disappears them into a black ops rendition program, etc. because you think this is so much better than Iran doing the same shit?

Made-up charges to prove....? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40010061)

So, they cooked up these charges, for what? What does the country and/or government get out of f*cking with this one person? Even if all that were true -- Contacting Israel and so called 'illegal earnings', wouldn't that be the problem of the United States?

If you escape, do not return. (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#40010155)

That simple. Iranians (well, except the MEK) aren't dedicated enough for a protracted violent struggle, so their government will remain as it is.

The Viet Minh and later Viet Cong were willing to die, by the hundreds of thousands, to take power in their country. The Taliban have demonstrated the same will to fight over decades.

Either be willing to fight as a revolutionary or get the fuck out before Serious People eat you. The Mullonazis are Serious People. If you aren't willing to slaughter them, you don't really oppose them.

Not a lot of sympathy (3, Interesting)

petsounds (593538) | about 2 years ago | (#40010249)

It's difficult to glean from the articles, but it seems Kokabee is not an American citizen, but an Iranian citizen who was attending an American graduate school. The act of going to an American school was the first risky move, both to his own safety but that of his family. The Iranian government knew he was attending an American school and simply waited for the appropriate time to use him as a pawn. Did he really think he was going to be able to associate himself with America and not end up being used for propaganda purposes by the Iranian government? He's a young kid so maybe he didn't think about it, but his parents should have.

I do sympathize that he felt he had to risk everything in order to get a good education in the field of his choice, but he put himself in a very risky position.

Well well well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40010273)

It does sound kind of political, doesn't it?

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