Posted on behalf of Michele Catanzaro.
Sayed Mojtaba Atarodi, a professor of electrical engineering at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran who had been held in prison in the United States since 7 December 2011, was released and returned to Iran on 27 April, according to the Iranian government-funded PressTV.
Atarodi had been charged of violating the US ban on trade with Iran by purchasing items for his laboratory. Upon arrival at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, the engineer declared that he had travelled to the United States for academic-research purposes and wanted to buy simple equipment for his personal laboratory, according to PressTV. Atarodi denied that this technology may have dual use, that is, that it could also have applications to Iran’s nuclear programme.
Atarodi’s work deals with materials science and microchip technology. In the past, he has collaborated with engineers at the University of California, Irvine, and at France’s CNRS research centre in Toulouse.
On 11 January 2012, faculty members at Sharif protested the arrest in a statement, which asked that Iranian scientists abroad be treated as are faculty from other countries. The statement argued that the technology Atarodi had planned to buy is available on the open market in Iran. As well, the authors of the statement wrote that Atarodi suffered from a heart condition and expressed concern for his health.