MNA – Minister of Science, Research and Technology Mansour Gholami has rebuked the United States for “trapping Iranian scientists”, saying that Tehran is following the case of the Iranian professor detained in the US.
“The US has gained the names of a number of Iranian professors, who have been researching and publishing articles in some fields and have purchased some laboratory equipment,” Gholami told reporters on Wednesday.
Noting that the US has been trapping the Iranian scientists, Gholami said, “They issue visas for Iranian professors and then arrest them as soon as the professors arrive in the US.”
This is just a game to capture the Iranian talents, he added.
Gholami was referring to the case of Iranian stem cell scientist Dr. Masoud Soleimani, who has been behind bars in the US without trial for the past seven months.
Back in October 2018, Soleimani, a professor and biomedical researcher at the Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) in Tehran, was arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) upon his arrival in the US.
Soleimani had been invited by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for leading a research program there, but he was secretly indicted by the FBI, which also canceled his research visa. Neither the FBI nor the US prosecutors have so far officially commented on his detention.
Gholami reiterated that Dr. Soleimani’s case will be followed until he is released.
He also dismissed any relation between Soleimani’s work to the US’ unilateral sanctions against Iran.
Reportedly, the Iranian scientist has been indicted for purported trade sanction violations over eight vials of human growth hormone.
BJay Pak, the US attorney in Atlanta, secured Soleimani’s indictment on June 12, 2018, just a month after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, and Soleimani had been fully unaware of such an indictment when he flew to the US.
The seizure occurred at a time when Washington was still a signatory to the 2015 nuclear deal, and anti-Iran sanctions had not been re-imposed yet.
Brother says Soleimani detained under false accusations
Soleimani’s brother has detailed how he and his family have been suffering as a result of poor contact with the prisoner and no clear prospect of his release.
“They have asked my brother to confess on trying to circumvent the sanctions, but he has not surrendered to their demands,” he said.
The brother went on to say that Soleimani is being kept in one of the US’s worst prisons.
“This prison is not safe,” he, meanwhile, added, calling the detention center among the worst in the United States.
Soleimani was “definitely” being held hostage by the US administration, the brother said. “How can a researcher and a physician, who does not have any criminal record and boasts numerous articles published in international circles, be placed in detention?” he asked.
His brother explained how American authorities would withhold information on him for several consecutive months, and that they could only learn about his situation after enlisting legal representation.
This is not the first time US authorities’ detain Iranians or Iranian dual nationals without producing any tangible explanation.
Almost 50 Iranian nationals are currently imprisoned in the United States under various pretexts, mainly bypassing the US sanctions.