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Politics Science

Imprisoned Physicist Honored For Refusing To Work On Iran's Nuclear Program 138

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the no-silex-for-you dept.
New submitter I3MOUNTAINS writes "Omid Kokabee, a University of Texas graduate student who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than two years, received the American Physical Society's Andrei Sakharov human rights prize for refusing to collaborate on the country's nuclear program. In May, an Iranian court sentenced him to ten years in prison for 'communicating with a hostile government' and receiving 'illegal earnings.' The so-called 'illegal earnings' were the student loans he received while in Texas."
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Imprisoned Physicist Honored For Refusing To Work On Iran's Nuclear Program

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  • Guts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spamchang (302052) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @02:10AM (#44931781) Journal

    This guy has 'em. There are other ways to sacrifice for worthy principles than warfare.

    Hook 'em.

    • Energy from Thorium gives us one more way to resolve this issue, ie, beyond 1. Withholding nuclear technology and 2. Sharing it with Iran, namely:

      Share the safe, non-Plutonium-generating Energy from Thorium (LFTR technology with Iran &;anyone who' ready to use it.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      Either guts, or he didn't like the idea of some Mossad agent slapping a magnetic bomb to hist car and blowing him to shit. One of those two.

    • I'm not sure it ends up being beneficial in the grand scheme of things, though. Iran obviously isn't a model nation by any standards, but looking at the current scenario of international politics and the powers of the UN*, you may suspect that nuclear deterrence is still alive and kicking. I don't know if we'd have so many wars or if we'd invest so much in warfare if nuclear missiles were ubiquitous, as paradoxical as this statement may seen.

      *See the Iraq war. Also, remember the US are setting their sights

    • by morgauxo (974071)

      Yeah he does but before giving him too much credit I'd point out that he lacks the common sense to stay out of Iran. Especially given his background of studying physics in the US!

  • So, how about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Radagast (2416) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @02:13AM (#44931795) Homepage

    Any prizes for Mordechai Vanunu [wikipedia.org]?

    • by Simploid (1649955)
      Wiki says he spent 18 years in prison, more than 11 of them in solitary and after release his movement is still restricted! Is this even real? Never heard of this!!
      • by Simploid (1649955)
        Reading further in Wikipedia, He received and was nominated for a lot of awards in Europe including noble peace prize.
      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Yes all too real. Note the use of the honey trap operation..
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      I give him the Balls of Steel trophy. I'm surprised Israel hasn't just staged an accident by now.

      • by durrr (1316311)

        "former Mossad director Shabtai Shavit told Reuters that the option of extrajudicial execution was considered in 1986, but rejected because "Jews don't do that to other Jews."[34]"

        In short, had he not been a jew, he'd been found dead from autoerotic asphyxation in female underwear instead of kidnapped.

    • Eh eh, they're all heroes unless they cross your interests, or interests you have in common with someone else. NSA docet.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      One refused to build nuclear weapons, one built nuclear weapons and then betrayed an oath. How are they similar?

    • Did you read what the Israelis did to him? Perhaps the society was worried what Mossad would do to them if they highlighted Israel's human rights violations and developing nuclear weapons. I mean, they're STILL punishing that guy, and they are our "allies." It's much safer to criticize Iran, you know the government isn't going to cooperate with Iran to punish you for it. Israel?
      • by Sun (104778)

        You seriously don't see the difference between someone imprisoned for refusing to participate, and someone imprisoned for taking an auth of secrecy and then violating it?

        Shachar

        • I don't think an oath changes the ethics of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Israel actually had nuclear weapons. The closest thing to a legitimate purpose of nuclear weapons is deterrence, which requires everyone knowing you have them. Nuclear weapons that are secret would only have one purpose: to murder lots of civilians of another country, out of revenge or ethnic cleansing.

          Yes I see the differences: Vanunu's actions were greater.
          • by Sun (104778)

            In other words, you praise the man who promised to do something you find unethical, and then betrayed the trust of those he made the promise to (and suffered consequences) over the man who decided he will not do something unethical, and suffered consequences for that refusal? You view the regime that punishes those who betray trust given, under consent, as worse than the one that punishes those who exercise their free will to openly refuse the trust to begin with?

            I do not see the logic (never mind agreeing

  • by Vintermann (400722) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @02:14AM (#44931799) Homepage

    Wouldn't it be nice if the west had the entire moral high ground on this? Considering iranian physicists and physics professors are murdered by foreign agents over a low shoe, you can't blame Iran for being paranoid.

    • by CauseBy (3029989)

      Is low shoe a typo or a reference to something I don't recognize? I can't figure it out.

      • by Buggz (1187173)
        It is a word-for-word translation of a norwegian saying. Doing something "over a low shoe" basically means doing said something very much/very often/excessively/uncritically.
        • by Trepidity (597)

          For those wondering where it's from, here's an explanation from Per Egil Hegge [wikipedia.org], via this thread (in Norwegian) [www.nrk.no]:

          In his book Katta i sekken, Kjell Ivar Vannebo writes that the origin is German, and comes from the fact that Germans often drank from a cup which was shaped like a shoe. Drinking over a shoe meant drinking too much. Later it became "low shoe", and the phrase was also expanded to include performing activity other than drinking, at a level far above normal or acceptable.

          The title of that book, by th

          • by unitron (5733)

            "Drinking over a shoe meant drinking too much."

            By "over", do all these people talking about shoes mean "more than"?

            In other words, it's not a question of relative vertical locations?

    • Wouldn't it be nice if the west had the entire moral high ground on this?

      What high ground does it have?

      Oh, right, Iran invaded the Talysh Khanate region in 1826, so it's an imminent threat to the region [businessinsider.com]. Also, there were those poorly-translated speeches in Israeli tabloids from a weak President who is out of office.

      Ah, but Iran doesn't participate in the world central banking system, so better get in there and take it over before they do get nukes (the multinational banks can't get their client states to

  • by tinkerton (199273) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @02:48AM (#44931927)

    The background story for this is: "Iran is currently trying really hard to make a deal with the West, if not with the US then at least with Europe. We've got to stop that. Throw everything at them that you got."

  • All Iran wants is to be untouchable like Israel, North Korea, Russia, China, India and Pakistan. And I completely understand after what the USA did to them in the 80s.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      And bullying scientists into helping them achieve that goal and imprisoning the ones who refuse is also understandable? Fuck off.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @02:58AM (#44931951)

    The so-called 'illegal earnings' were the student loans he received while in Texas.

    I hate to think how much compound interest he will have accumulated while in jail.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      I hate to think how much compound interest he will have accumulated while in jail.

      If only he hadn't left the lights on at home...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yep, Riba (interest, bordering usury in case of student loans) is indeed forbidden by sharia law, so he got what he deserved.
      • It is actually against Christian and Jewish law, and since their book is just a offshoot of the new Testament they have it as well.

  • I hope that prize is meant for "fighting for your ideas against tyranny" and not for having refused to work on a nuclear program, otherwise hundreds of american scientists would be outlaw.

    And, several iranian students are attending phds here at our university (Italy), some of them in microbiology to cite something that could be "borderline", so are all they at risk now?

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @03:07AM (#44931985)

    Islam generally frowns on "usury", so I guess a determined Iranian Religious Judge could easily fudge a conviction with a trumped up charge about that. Islamic Banking jumps through all kind of hoops to keep the Imams happy when making loans and paying interest.

    But I'm curious if student loans are a general problem with Islam . . . ? Do pious students avoid them . . . ?

    This would be a catastrophe for the US, if it would wake up tomorrow an Islamic Republic . . . all those students saddled with debt that will never be able to pay back would face prison, as well!

    My wacky thought for the morning . . .

    • by m00sh (2538182) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @03:16AM (#44932013)

      Islam generally frowns on "usury", so I guess a determined Iranian Religious Judge could easily fudge a conviction with a trumped up charge about that. Islamic Banking jumps through all kind of hoops to keep the Imams happy when making loans and paying interest.

      But I'm curious if student loans are a general problem with Islam . . . ? Do pious students avoid them . . . ?

      This would be a catastrophe for the US, if it would wake up tomorrow an Islamic Republic . . . all those students saddled with debt that will never be able to pay back would face prison, as well!

      My wacky thought for the morning . . .

      Foreign citizens are not eligible for student loans in the US. Kokabee probably got some other form of financial assistance like a fellowship or an assistantship. The summary is wrong.

      The wikipedia article says he was working on his second PhD. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omid_Kokabee [wikipedia.org]

      What is the point of getting a second PhD? Other than financial, I don't see other reason to pursue a second PhD. Besides, all the class credits would transfer and you'd basically end up doing research what a post-doc would do but be a PhD student.

      • Perhaps it was about keeping a student status so the administrative aspects of being able to be there were easier.

    • Don't muslim workers have salary?
  • Kind of like an Iranian Snowden. Snowden was also nominated for the same prize right. Both guys not cooperating with their government evil plans.

    • And strangely the american dissident did not win the american prize, even if, on a pure theoretical plane, refusing to spy emails is less damage to a nation than refusing to work on a nuclear program. And I think Snowden would get no less prison years than Kobabee. The only difference is the more civil trial he would have in USA (even if... even if... let's not start mentioning things happening somewhere outside USA...). I see a lot of hypocrisy in those cases, accuse one and defend the other one. I'm not t
    • Why is it "evil" for Iran to want a nuclear bomb, given that Israel and the USA both hate them, and have lots?

      BTW the USA treats anyone who holds any Iranian rial as having "illegal earnings" and punishes them severely.

  • You gotta have some balls to take that position you know. I have respect for people of these sort.
  • by murdocj (543661) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:04AM (#44932581)

    Fun to see it transition from "Iran imprisons scientist for having the courage of his convictions" to "USA / Israel evil". Good to know Slashthink is alive & well.

    • Why would it be a problem? I feel natural to put an event in a broader context to evaluate it in light of the international relationships, and the so-called rogue countries are not the only one doing horrible things like that when they feel it compelling.
  • In May, an Iranian court sentenced him to ten years in prison for 'communicating with a hostile government' and receiving 'illegal earnings.' The so-called 'illegal earnings' were the student loans he received while in Texas."

    Let's change that up a bit.

    In May, an American court sentenced you to ten years in prison, $1 million in corporate fines, and $250,000 in individual fines; civil penalties up to $55,000 per violation [wikipedia.org] for 'violating trade embargo'. The so-called 'violation of trade embargo' was you visiting your family in cuba and buying a cigar while you were there.

    Sorry Iran, US laws are more ridiculous and our penalties are greater.

  • Any Iranian national who leaves the country to do anything in the west (US in particular) should expect to at the least be interrogated and at the worst, jailed. That this guy was getting an advanced science/engineering degree makes him all the more valuable to the state. I realize his "family" still was in Iran, but to think for a moment he was not going to have serious problems at some point while visiting was the height of stupidity. When he made the decision to study in the US he effectively made th

  • by jeff13 (255285)

    Well, yea but, how can we make this Obama's fault?

  • Where advancement in the Iranian nuclear industry is quick and puts your career on the fast track to the top, there are some serious issues. The least of which is any moral objection to what you are working on.

    Over the last decade, nuclear scientists have been dying in droves in Iran. Consider it an occupational hazard. No they are not dying from dangerous research or risky experiments gone wrong, they are dying from what I call "High speed Lead Poisoning" and "Rapid dismembering due to proximity to lar

  • Why anyone would go back to Iran once they are out is a complete mystery to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward

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    You sheep really need to read PNAC again, and study the list of target nations slated for destruction by the depravities that created this document. And then you sheeple need to read up on the state

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