Physicians Who Addressed HIV/AIDS in Iran Convicted of Plot To Overthrow Iranian Government
Iranian physicians Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei, brothers who implemented Iran's first HIV prevention program, were among four men sent to prison Saturday for allegedly participating in a U.S.-backed plot to overthrow the Iranian government, the New York Times reports (Fathi, New York Times, 1/20).
According to the AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Alaei brothers and two other men were convicted and sentenced Saturday. The identities of the two other men involved in the case were not released. All four men were sentenced to prison, although the length of the sentences was not announced, according to the AP/Star-Tribune. According to Masoud Shafii, a lawyer for the Alaeis, the brothers were tried under a law that allows anyone who cooperates with a foreign hostile government against Iran to be sentenced to one to 10 years in prison (Karimi, AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 1/19). Shafii said he expects a verdict within a few days and prison sentences of up to 10 years. He added that he would appeal the ruling (Mostaghim/Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, 1/20).
Sarah Kolloch of Physicians for Human Rights said the group does not know why the Alaei brothers were "targeted" by the Iranian government. "Most of [the Alaei brothers'] presentations were about innovative work in Iran on HIV prevention," Kolloch said, adding, "If anything, Iran should have been excited that something positive like this was coming from Iran." Shafii said that the brothers' "foreign cooperation and relations were only scientific and cultural and not against the country" (AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 1/19). Frank Donaghue, head of PHR, said, "To all appearances, the arrest and now the trial of these two prominent and widely traveled AIDS doctors seem to be an effort to shut the door on medical and public health collaboration on global health crises" (Los Angeles Times, 1/20).