An Iranian stem cell research scientist has been detained by US law enforcement agencies since October last year because federal prosecutors believe he is trying to deliver medical biomaterials to Iran, in violation of US trade sanctions against Iran.
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Masud Sulemani traveled from the Iranian capital Tehran to the United States in October last year and plans to complete the final phase of treatment for stroke patients at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Sulemani landed in the third largest city in the United States, Chicago, Illinois. The US prosecutor used an indictment prepared in June 2018 and then sealed up, arrested Sulemani, canceled his visa, and held him in custody. A detention facility south of Atlanta, Georgia.
The federal prosecutor accused Sulemani and his two previous students of not being authorized to plot and attempt to transport biological materials from the United States to Iran. If the court found the charge after the trial, the three defendants face up to 20 years in prison.
The Associated Press reported that Sulemani’s team of lawyers said that Sulemani used the opportunity of students to return to Iran from the United States in September 2016, trying to bring students back to Iran for the recombinant protein needed for a batch of experiments.
The Associated Press reported that customs officials intercepted the batch of recombinant protein at the Atlanta airport on September 6. The United States sanctioned Iran, causing soaring domestic prices in Iran. Sulemani’s lawyer, Leonard Franco, said that the protein spent $8,000 in the United States and $40,000 in Iran.
The team of defense lawyers of the three scientists said that their clients did not do the wrong thing. Recombinant proteins are medical materials that bring non-commercial medical materials to Iran differently than exports and do not require US official approval.