Iran Postpones Verdict in Case Against Physicians Who Worked To Address HIV/AIDS
Iran on Wednesday postponed a verdict in the trial against brothers Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei, two Iranian physicians who implemented the country's first HIV prevention and treatment program, the Albany Times Union reports. The brothers have been held in a prison in the capital of Tehran since June 2008 on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government, as well as other charges that the prosecution did not release. The prosecution rested its case against the physicians following a one-day trial in Tehran's Revolutionary Court on Dec. 31, 2008. According to the Alaeis' attorney, Masoud Shafie, the proceeding deprived them of their due process. Jonathan Hutson, a spokesperson for Physicians for Human Rights, said that the next likely date for a verdict is Saturday, when courts are in session (Grondahl, Albany Times Union, 1/8).
Hasan Hadad, deputy general prosecutor of Tehran, in an August 2008 statement said the brothers attempted to recruit and train people to topple the Iranian government. Hadad said that the brothers were "involved in organizing gatherings on topics such as AIDS that have received attention from domestic and international" non-governmental organizations, adding that they "acted to recruit individuals to travel abroad with the aim of training them on overthrowing the system. They were well aware of their activities and topics of training, such as velvet revolutions" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/24/08).
According to the Times Union, PHR is leading a global campaign calling for immediate release of the brothers. The organization has said that the charges are false, politically motivated and based on their attendance at international HIV/AIDS conferences. Health care professionals also launched a phone-in campaign this week to the Iranian mission at the United Nations, and more than 4,000 people from 85 countries have signed an online petition calling for the Alaeis' release at iranfreethedocs.org. Kamiar Alaei had completed one year of a two-year doctoral program at the University of Albany, and students and faculty have joined efforts to free the brothers, according to the Times Union (Albany Times Union, 1/8).