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February 3, 2009
Their Crime? Collaborating With Other Scientists. . .
Nature is rightfully drawing attention to the case of Arash and Kamiar Alaei, physicians (and brothers) from Iran, who have been sentenced to years in prison for supposedly "communicating with an enemy government". Their real crime seems to have been attending international conferences, talking about HIV as a public health problem in Iran, and doing so alongside representatives of US-based groups.
As the journal points out in an open letter, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been traveling around telling everyone about how wonderful scientific collaboration is. Watch their hands, not their lips, though. My sympathies go out to the Alaei brothers, along my hopes that international pressure might secure their release or make their appeals successful.
And my sympathies also go out to those scientists and physicians in Iran who have to work under such conditions - as the record of many expatriates shows, Iranians excel in such work when fools are not clapping handcuffs on them.
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