CIFS Human Rights Cases
News and Updates
The Committee on International Freedom of Scientists (CIFS) is responsible for monitoring the rights of scientists around the world, including the United States, and advocating on behalf of those in need. Below is a sampling of some of the cases that CIFS has monitored.
Abduljalil Al-Singace (Mechanical Engineer)
On 17 March 2011, Al-Singace was forcibly taken from his home and imprisoned without charge (after having been released from prison on 23 February 2011). Al-Singace was originally arrested in Bahrain in August 2010 after reporting on Bahrain's human rights record to the British House of Lords.
Omid Kokabee (Physics Ph.D. Student & APS Member)
Arrested in Iran in the winter of 2011 when trying to return to the University of Texas at Austin, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in optics. Accused of "illegal earnings" and "communicating with a hostile government." On 13 May 2012, sentenced to 14 years in prison for "communicating with a hostile government." CIFS wrote to the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei in June 2012 to protest his conviction. In 2013, asked members of the UN Human Rights Council to encourage Iranian officials to comply with Iran's international human rights obligations with regard to their treatment of Kokabee.
"Iran Sentences Kokabee to Ten Years in Prison," APS News, June 2012
"APS Protests Iranian Jailing of UT Austin Physics Student," APS News, August 2011
"Imprisoned APS Member Faces Harsh Treatment and Charges in Iran," APS News, October 2011
View the "Free Omid Kokabee" video created by students from the University of Texas who are supporting CIFS member Herb Berk's drive to help Omid Kokabee
CIFS has followed with concern the assassination of Iranian scientists over the past couple of years. In 2012, APS officially condemned these assassinations.
Letter from 2012 APS President Robert Byer, "Condemning Iranian Physicist Assassinations"
"APS President Condemns Wave of Iranian Scientist Assassinations" (APS News)
Murad Abu-Khalaf (Electrical Engineer)
In 2008, the Israeli Interior Ministry revoked Dr. Abu-Khalaf's resident status on the grounds that he had "severed his relationship with Israel" by legally working in the United States, leaving him state-less. CIFS wrote on his behalf to ask that the government restore his residency status in his state of birth. As a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, Dr. Abu-Khalaf had gone to the U.S. to seek education and training before returning to Jerusalem, where his family lives. In 2012, Dr. Abu-Khalaf's right to enter Israel as a resident was reinstated. He indicated that CIFS's involvement was helpful in putting the residency revocation process on hold.
RussiaValentin Danilov (Physicist)
Sentenced to 14 years in prison for allegedly selling state secrets to a Chinese company with which his university had a legal contract.
November 2012: Danilov was released from prison on parole after having served more than eleven years in jail.
Svyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev (Scientists)
Bobyshev and Afanasyev were detained beginning in March 2010 without formal charges against them. In June 2012, they were found guilty of treason charges and sentenced to 12 and 12.5 years in prison, respectively.
GazaSince 2007, several hundred Palestinian students in Gaza have been prevented from pursuing their academic careers abroad due to Israeli travel restrictions that were imposed after Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. CIFS has advocated on behalf of these students.