Charges Announced Against Physicians Who Worked To Address HIV/AIDS in IranBrothers Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei, two Iranian physicians who implemented the country's first HIV prevention and treatment program, are among four people charged with allegedly plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, the Albany Times Union reports. According to the Times Union, the brothers and two other individuals could receive life sentences if found guilty. A sentence in the case was expected on Thursday, the Times Union reports (Grondahl, Albany Times Union, 1/15).
On Wednesday, Iranian judiciary spokesperson Ali-Reza Jamshidi said that the government had broken up the four-person cell linked with the CIA and U.S. State Department. Jamshidi added that the group "recruited and trained people to work with different espionage networks to launch a velvet overthrow of the Iranian government." While the names of those charged were not released by Jamshidi, Physicians for Human Rights said it has information that the Alaei brothers were among those charged, according to the Globe. The State Department released a statement calling the charges "baseless," adding, "In the past, Iran has used similar charges to falsely accuse and detain civil society activists and Iranians working to enhance understanding between our two countries. We urge the government of Iran to adhere to international norms by ending its policy of arbitrarily detaining its citizens or using charges of violating national security as a pretext for targeting any Iranian citizen" (Stockman, Boston Globe, 1/15).
Sarah Kalloch, a spokesperson for PHR, said that the group is "deeply, deeply concerned about their health and safety." She added, "They've done so much to save lives, and now there's a possibility they could spend the rest of their lives in prison. We believe these charges are patently false. It appears that Iran is politicizing AIDS, and that's a terrible thing" (Albany Times Union, 1/15). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.