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    HIV specialists detained in Iran

    A friend in Albany just sent me a link to this story:

    A University at Albany public health student internationally known for his AIDS work has been arrested by Iranian security forces, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

    The New York-based group urged Iranian authorities to release or charge Kamiar Alaei and his brother, Arash. The two physicians were detained in late June, the group said. Their whereabouts are unknown.

    Alaei was excited to see his family when [colleague Ladan] Alomar last spoke with him in June before he left for Iran. She expected him back in August, and planned to pick him up at the train station.

    Iranian authorities detained Arash Alaei overnight at an unknown location before accompanying him to his home the following morning, according to Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights group based in the U.S.

    There, they arrested Kamiar Alaei and seized documents belonging to the brothers. Authorities have refused to give them access to a lawyer or say where and why they’re being held, according to Human Rights Watch.

    Here‘s the Human Rights Watch statement. There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of information at the moment about why the two men might have been arrested. (I looked around, figuring that even if the government weren’t being forthcoming, someone might have an idea.) The Alaei brothers have been involved in shaping government-sanctioned organizations, so they don’t seem to have established themselves as enemies of the state. At the same time, some of their work has been with prisoners, and treating people with drug-related diseases and STDs presumably puts them into contact with plenty of other people who aren’t in well with the government. Who knows what information the authorities may think they can pick up from their records? Alaei’s description of his program in Iran is here.

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