RNA - Soleimani, a professor and biomedical researcher at Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) in Tehran, was arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) upon his arrival in the US in October last year.
The stem cell researcher had been invited by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for leading a research program there, but he was secretly indicted by the FBI, which also canceled his research visa.
According to his Atlanta attorney, Leonard Franco, he has since been held behind bars in Atlanta without bond.
Prosecutors in Atlanta have accused him of conspiring and attempting to export vials of human growth hormone from the US to Iran without authorization, in violation of US sanctions.
According to Soleimani’s lawyer, the human growth hormone is not banned in the US or Iran and was being used “exclusively for medical research,” which is still considered largely exempt from US sanctions.
“Basically, what they [the US] are saying is that he was trying to exchange, or he was involved in something that is on the sanctions list, which isn’t true. He had just arrived in the United States. He had not been involved in anything … The thing is that it is just an excuse. This is a prominent scientist, the top 1% in the world and his stem cell research is just unbelievable,” Marzieh Hashemi, activist and Press TV anchor said in an interview on the occasion of the first anniversary of Dr. Soleimani’s imprisonment.
“I think the actual situation is that we have to remember as far as stem cell research the United States is number one, Iran is number two and in general what we are seeing is pressure on Iran in general because of Islamic Republic of Iran 40 Years and also definitely trying to keep Iran from developing and from continuing to advance,” she added.
Hashemi went on to say that the top Iranian scientist’s arrest was “definitely pre-planned,” arguing that unfortunately Mayo Clinic seems to have played a role in this arrest.
The activist stated that it is obvious that the United States is “targeting” Iran, emphasizing that Washington has been pursuing the same policy towards the Islamic Republic for 40 years,.
“If we look at the history from 40 years ago, we would see different times that Republicans and Democrats have targeted Iran whether it was increasing sanctions or scientists actually being arrested … So I think it is an issue with the American policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran,” she noted.
Hashemi further opined that it is everyone’s responsibility to stand up for the truth, stressing that people need to use social media platforms to pressure the United States to free Dr. Soleimani.
‘Trump after destroying Iran’
Meanwhile, author and political analyst Michael Springmann said he believed the United States — which is controlled by the Zionists — is targeting Iranian scientists in an attempt to destroy the Islamic Republic.
“[US President Donald] Trump has been after Muslims and Arabs since the start of his administration. He has no sense of history and he is surrounded by Zionists ... It is a simple issue, it is a regulatory issue and you can work this out. You do not need to jail somebody for a couple of vials of chemical that you can buy anywhere in the world practically. So I think it is basically that Trump wants to destroy Iran,” he stated.
'A human rights violation'
In a separate interview, Hassan Fathi, a political commentator, has described the United States’ arrest of Dr. Soleimani as “a human rights violation.”
“Massoud Soleimani is just one of the recent cases of US human rights violations. The US sees domestic human rights abuses as an internal matter, yet imposes sanctions against other nations on similar issues. They claim no human rights violations exist in the US which is silly,” he said.
Soleimani’s colleagues have also dismissed US prosecutors’ claims as “unacceptable,” explaining that human growth materials are readily available in the market and are not subject to Washington’s anti-Iran embargoes.
“First of all, I have to explain that when we talk about a vial we mean just a couple of micrograms. It is used only for research purposes and has no other use whatsoever. It helps a stem cell grow under that cell. We are currently buying it from European and Japanese companies and because it is used for medical research it does not fall under US sanctions,” said Mansoureh Movahedin, the head of Faculty of Medicine, Tarbiat Modares University (TMU).
The family of Dr. Soleimani has described the United States’ incarceration of the top Iranian scientist as “hostile” and “inhumane,” condemning Washington’s accusations against him as “baseless.”
They also believe Dr. Soleimani’s arrest is “politically motivated,” adding that it is an excuse aimed at mounting pressure against Tehran.
“The US government has used an Iranian national and scientist as a bargaining chip in its political disputes with Iran. This is immoral and unacceptable,” said Mahnaz Rabeie, Dr. Soleimani’s wife.
Soleimani is among the top 1 percent of the most highly cited scientists in stem cell research and regenerative medicine in the world. His arrest is viewed by observers as a blatant violation of free access to science.
The 49-year-old professor and biomedical researcher is suffering from several health issues which have been aggravated during his incarceration. He is denied any visits from his family.
His wife says Soleiman's mother has died of severe stress over his arrest, they have kept this hidden from Soleimeni for the fear of further spiritual damage to the jailed scientist.