After Losing Kidney to Cancer, Imprisoned Physicist Must Be Treated for Other Illnesses

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Omid Kokabee Could Lose His Life After Years of Denied Medical Care in Iran Prison

Omid Kokabee, the young physicist who was imprisoned in Iran for his refusal to work on military research, and who recently lost a kidney after years of being denied adequate health care, is suffering from more medical problems that require urgent attention.

“In addition to cancer [of the kidney], Omid is suffering from stomach inflammation and intestinal bleeding that require careful medical attention,” a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The source, who is close to Kokabee, said that the physicist has had clear signs of internal bleeding during his imprisonment, and that “In his years in prison, he has had severe stomach pains that have only been treated with painkiller injections from the prison infirmary.”

“Omid has been taking stomach pills for four years. That’s why he has always been very thin in prison,” the source told the Campaign. “Unfortunately, until March 2016, the previous deputy Tehran prosecutor would not authorize any treatment for Omid’s kidney, digestion and dental problems and that has led to the situation we see today.”

“In recent months Omid had requested medical furlough several times, but they were all rejected,” said the source. Political prisoners in Iran are singled out for particularly harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care.

“Omid also has severe dental problems. In his last checkup, a couple of months ago, he was told eight of his teeth need to be either repaired or undergo root canal work,” continued the source. “Omid hasn’t spent a day in prison without tooth pain.”

Omid Kokabee, 34, lost his right kidney due to advanced cancer on April 20, 2016, after a long period of medical neglect in prison. He has served five years of a 10-year prison sentence for alleged “contact with enemy states,” a charge that was issued after he refused to cooperate on a military research project for Iran’s security establishment.

Kokabee has been in Evin Prison since he was arrested on January 30, 2011 at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport on his way back to the U.S. to continue his studies as a post-doctoral student in physics at the University of Texas at Austin.

“If he had been transferred out of the prison to receive a routine sonography in November 2011, when he first experienced bleeding and pain caused by kidney stones, [the issue] would have been noticed,” an informed source told the Campaign on April 18, 2016. “Even a simple sonography would show a tumor. Omid had repeatedly gone to the prison infirmary, complaining of kidney and stomach pain.”

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