Texas nuclear physics student on trial in Iran

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 04, 2011 11:17 AM
Texas nuclear physics student on trial in Iran

TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian studying nuclear physics in the United States went on trial in Tehran Tuesday for having contact with "hostile countries," his lawyer said.

Amir Kokabi, 28, a University of Texas graduate student, was arrested at departures at Tehran airport in February. He is also charged with receiving "illicit payments," lawyer Saeed Khalili told Reuters, calling the accusations "illogical and baseless."

Judiciary officials were not immediately available for comment.

Iran is locked in a dispute with Washington over its nuclear program which many countries fear is aimed at building atomic weapons, a charge it denies.

Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been the target of bomb attacks that Tehran has blamed on Israeli agents seeking to sabotage its nuclear work. Israel has declined to comment.

In another incident that remains shrouded in mystery, Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri said he was kidnapped in June 2009 when on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and transferred to the United States.

He said he was offered $50 million to remain in America and "to spread lies" about Iran's nuclear work, but he returned to Iran in July 2010. Washington said he had been living freely in the United States.

Khalili was unable to give more details on the case. "Unfortunately, I was denied access to visit my client or study his file over the course of the eight months," he said.

(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Robert Woodward)