(Various sources, AFP, Farsi News, The US has detained a well respected Iranian scientist for nearly seven months for allegedly attempting to ship growth hormones.  Professor Masoud Soleimani had been invited to meet at the Mayo Clinic.  The US canceled his research visa while he was already en route and took the professor into custody when he landed in the U.S. in October. The charge is that three years ago two of Soleimeni’s students illegally transported eight vials of human growth hormone.  Since then, the professor and biomedical researcher at the University of Tehran— has been held in Atlanta without bond, said his attorney, Leonard Franco. The growth hormone is not banned in the U.S. or Iran and was being used exclusively for medical research, which is still considered largely exempt from sanctions, the attorney said.

Rasoul Soleimani, the professor’s brother says “The vials were not subject to sanctions and have a purely medical use… the Americans’ absurd claims have baffled everyone inside and outside the country,”  “The story began when (Mayo Clinic), which is engaged in stem cell activities and which had conducted joint projects with my brother, asked him to cooperate with them on a new project. But it didn’t happen and my brother was arrested at the airport before entering the United States.”

Apparently, the arrest relates to events three years ago when the vials were seized from students of Soleimani’s. The two students were heading to Iran to give the vials to professor Soleimani for his research. The students, a naturalized American and a permanent resident have both now been released. on bonds of $250,000 and $200,000.  One student is now an assistant professor at Yale University’s School of Medicine and the other is a scientist at the University of Louisville.

According to his attorneys, after the arrest, the US offered to let the professor cop a plea.  Professor Soleimi’s brother went on, “First, they told my brother that he had better leave the way open for compromise and accept that the [purchase of the] hormones were aimed at circumventing sanctions, but my brother refused to give in to their demand and said he hadn’t done anything wrong,” “But my brother did not admit and said he has done nothing wrong.”

Meanwhile, according to the lawyers and Rasoul Soleimani, the professor is being held in very adverse conditions.  “Unfortunately, they did not transfer my brother to a normal prison and he is kept in a detention center in which people with social anomalies are imprisoned. My brother is also suffering irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the disease has relapsed after his detention,”

Hearing this case has been adjourned for at least three times since October and his family and the TMU have so far paid $70,000 to his lawyers to prove his innocence, but all to no avail, said TMU’s Vice-chancellor for Research Affairs Yaghoub Fathollahi. Motions to dismiss the charges are pending in a federal court in Atlanta in front of US District Judge Eleanor Ross. However, Federal prosecutors in Atlanta have not yet responded to the motions.

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