Renowned Doctors Among Four "Destroyed" in Iran

Two Iranian brothers known worldwide for their work on HIV/AIDS are among the four "gang of saboteurs" cited yesterday in the Tehran Times as "recently discovered and destroyed."

According the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iranian Judiciary spokesperson Ali-Reza Jamshidi told a news conference yesterday that four Iranian citizens had been arrested and brought to the court on charges of "communications with an enemy government" and seeking to overthrow the Iranian government under.

Jamshidi, who last month announced the stoning of two men convicted of adultery in northeastern Iran, claimed: "They were linked to the CIA, backed by the US government and State Department... They recruited and trained people to work with different espionage networks to launch a velvet overthrow of the Iranian government".

The rights of doctors Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei have been violated and their commitment to public health worldwide has been misrepresented by the Iranian Government as a threat to their regime. In a press statement yesterday, a coalition of human rights groups -- including Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran -- said the charge of plotting a coup is being brought unfairly, without the brothers being given the chance to adequately defend themselves.

Their trial was marked by clear violations of due process. The groups have spoken out repeatedly about their concern that these serious charges had been levied without due process. The verdict in the case is expected this week, following a one-day trial in Tehran's Revolutionary Court on December 31, 2008, on charges of communicating with an "enemy government." At the trial, the Iranian prosecutor also informed the court of additional, secret evidence which the brothers' attorney had no opportunity to refute, because the prosecutor did not disclose them.

Over the last week, thousands of people from around the globe contacted the Iranian Mission to the UN in New York City, demanding the Alaeis' release. In addition 3,100 doctors, nurses and public health workers from 85 countries have signed an online petition demanding their release. Leading physicians and public health specialists and numerous medical and scientific organizations have publicly called for the brothers' release.

Dr. Kamiar Alaei is a doctoral candidate at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health and was expected to resume his studies there this fall. In 2007, he received a Master of Science degree in Population and International Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Dr. Arash Alaei is the former director of the International Education and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. Since 1998, the Drs. Alaei have been carrying out HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs, particularly focused on harm reduction for injecting drug users.

In addition to their work in Iran, the Alaei brothers have held training courses for Afghan and Tajik medical workers and have worked to encourage regional cooperation among 12 Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries. Their efforts expanded the expertise of doctors in the region, advanced the progress of medical science, and earned Iran recognition as a model of best practice by the World Health Organization.