Target: Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Republic
Goal: Free an Iranian graduate student jailed for refusing to spy on other students abroad
Hamid Babaei is an Iranian graduate student pursuing a PhD at the University of Liege in Belgium. However, his promising academic career has been put on hold as he is held in his native Iran on charges of “acting against national security by communicating with hostile governments.” His wife, who has been campaigning for his release, is also at risk of arrest. Sign the petition and demand that Iranian authorities free Hamid Babaei immediately and unconditionally.
The trouble started when Babaei was approached by the Ministry of Intelligence while he was home in Iran over the summer. The Ministry wanted Babaei to keep tabs on other Iranian students studying in Belgium, and officials asked him to identify other students from pictures they showed to him. Babaei refused the proposal, telling officials that “he wished to serve his country only through his academic studies”. In retaliation, the Ministry slapped Babaei with a charge of “acting against national security by communicating with hostile governments,” using his university scholarship as evidence of his work for Belgium, the so-called “hostile government.” The case against him is flimsy and ridiculous, and his time in custody has been fraught with human rights violations: he has been kept in solitary confinement, he has not been allowed to retain his own lawyer (and was not even assigned a lawyer at all until after being interrogated and held for over a month), and he has not been able to contact his family. His wife, Cobra Parsajoo, has also been subject to harassment solely as a result of her relation to her husband; she has been barred from traveling and threatened with arrest for speaking out about her husband’s detention.
Refusal to spy for Iran does not automatically make Babaei guilty of spying for another country. Iran must respect Babaei’s personal choices and his human rights, and it must stop its senseless persecution of him and his loved ones. Sign the petition and demand the immediate release of Hamid Babaei.
Hamid Babaei is a husband, a student, and a citizen of Iran. What he is not is a spy. However, that has not stopped the Iranian government from detaining him on a charge of “acting against national security by communicating with hostile governments” after Babaei refused to spy on other Iranian students in Belgium. If Babaei has in fact been in collusion with a “hostile government,” I’m sure the global community would love to view the evidence. If, however, he is being held solely for his refusal to spy for Iran, he must be released immediately and unconditionally.
The charges against Babaei are both flimsy and ridiculous; the “evidence” of his communication with the Belgian government consists of the scholarship money he receives for his graduate studies at the University of Liege. In addition, Babaei’s human rights have been violated since he was detained–he has been held incommunicado, kept in solitary confinement, and denied access to a lawyer of his choosing. He was not even allowed a lawyer at all until after he had been interrogated and held for over one month. As if all this weren’t bad enough, his wife now faces arrest for speaking out about her husband’s case. Her travel rights have already been rescinded.
This entire situation is farcical, unnecessary, and unjust. If no legitimate evidence of Hamid Babaei’s alleged communications with “hostile governments” can be produced, he must be released immediately and unconditionally. Furthermore, Iran must ensure that it respects the human rights of detainees–and their relatives–no matter of what they are accused.
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Photo credit: .v1ctor Casale via Flickr