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THE (Times Higher Education) - - LETTERS -

An open let­ter to the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice

We are mem­bers of the aca­demic com­mu­nity in the UK and be­yond, in­clud­ing China, Fin­land, France, Ger­many, Ice­land, Italy, Rus­sia, Slove­nia, South Korea and the US, work­ing at the fore­front of com­puter science, math­e­mat­ics and ma­chine learn­ing.

We are deeply con­cerned about the ar­rest in Iran of our col­league, Ab­bas Edalat, pro­fes­sor in com­puter science and math­e­mat­ics at Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don (“Iran con­firms ar­rest of Bri­tish-Ira­nian pro­fes­sor”, News, 30 April, www. timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com).

Many of us have known Ab­bas for decades as a kind, car­ing, de­cent and hon­ourable man, of great in­tel­lect and in­tegrity.

It is par­tic­u­larly sur­pris­ing that Ab­bas was ar­rested specif­i­cally in Iran. He deeply re­spects his own rich her­itage, back­ground and eth­nic­ity, and we have heard him say only pos­i­tive things about the Ira­nian na­tion and peo­ple. He has al­ways been ready to ex­press his love for his na­tive coun­try.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing a promi­nent aca­demic, mak­ing fun­da­men­tal con­tri­bu­tions to math­e­mat­i­cal logic and the­o­ret­i­cal com­puter science, Ab­bas has worked cease­lessly with bod­ies such as the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific, and Cultural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Unesco) to bridge the gap in tech­nol­ogy, ed­u­ca­tion and de­vel­op­ment be­tween the de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing worlds. He has al­ways pro­moted friend­ship and col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the UK and Iran and worked tire­lessly to pro­mote peace.

Ab­bas has taught many gen­er­a­tions of stu­dents at Im­pe­rial. Some of us have writ­ten our PhD dis­ser­ta­tions un­der his su­per­vi­sion. Many of us are deeply in­debted to Ab­bas for our own achieve­ments in com­puter science, math­e­mat­ics and ma­chine learn­ing – strate­gic ar­eas of re­search for the UK and the world – which would have been im­pos­si­ble with­out his gen­er­ous teach­ing, ad­vice and truly vi­sion­ary thought leadership over many decades.

In ad­di­tion to in­flict­ing in­ex­pli­ca­ble suffering on our col­league, teacher and friend, Ab­bas’ de­ten­tion is caus­ing a lot of harm to the aca­demic com­mu­nity in the UK, Iran and world­wide.

By sign­ing this let­ter, we are not try­ing to make a po­lit­i­cal state­ment or to influence international af­fairs one way or another. We are ex­press­ing con­cern for our col­league, teacher and friend.

We are all ex­tremely con­cerned about Ab­bas’ situation and would humbly so­licit you to of­fer him what­ever help is nec­es­sary to se­cure his re­lease.

Sam­son Abram­sky, Christo­pher Stra­chey pro­fes­sor of com­put­ing, Univer­sity of Ox­ford

Luca Aceto, pro­fes­sor, School of Com­puter Science, Reyk­javik Univer­sity

Mauri­cio Alvarez-Manilla, di­rec­tor at Mit­subishi UFJ Se­cu­ri­ties International and a for­mer PhD stu­dent of Ab­bas Edalat plus more than 50 oth­ers

For the list of sig­na­to­ries, visit www.timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

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