Scholars from around the world are campaigning for the safe release of a former University of Kent student imprisoned in Bahrain.

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Professor Masaud Jahromi, who graduated in 2001 with a PhD in telecommunication networking, was arrested on April 14 this year but has yet to be charged with any offence despite spending almost five months behind bars.

The married father-of-one, who is currently chairman of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Ahlia University’s College of Mathematical Sciences and Information Engineering in Bahrain, also suffers from Hepatitis C and has allegedly been refused treatment by his captors.

Eager to raise awareness of Prof Jahromi’s plight is the international Scholars at Risk (SAR) organisation, which exists to promote academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide.

A large number of British universities are members of the network, including the University of Kent.

SAR executive director Robert Quinn said: “Since his arrest, Prof Jahromi was reportedly held in an undisclosed location and initially had no communication with his family.

“According to reports, the police broke into his house in the middle of the night, threatened and harassed members of his family, confiscated the family’s laptops and beat Prof Jahromi. We understand now he was initially brought to AlGalaa prison and later transferred to Dry Dock Prison.

“He has yet to be informed of the charges against him. A date for his hearing has not yet been set in spite of the fact he has been detained for more than four months – in apparent disregard for international standards of due process, fair trial and detention.”

Based at New York University, Scholars at Risk was launched as part of the University of Chicago’s human rights programme in 1999.

Academics are invited to apply for assistance from the organisation if they are experiencing threats to their life, liberty or career, or if they have been forced to leave their country because of such threats.

Mr Quinn said: “We learned of Prof Jahromi’s situation from local advocates for his wellbeing, whom we cannot identify for fear it would result in their receiving threats.

“Our main hope at this time is to support them by bringing international attention to his case. We will continue to monitor his situation and hope the attention will at least keep his case on the agenda of Bahraini officials and perhaps raise the political costs of his detention, leading to an improvement in conditions and/or release.”

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