ATLANTA — An Iranian scientist who was coming to the U.S. for a prestigious visiting scientist position was arrested on arrival.

Prosecutors in Atlanta have accused professor Masoud Soleimani and two of his former students of conspiring and attempting to export biological materials from the U.S. to Iran without authorization in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Defense attorneys for the three argue no authorization was needed because the recombinant proteins are medical materials.

The proteins were seized from one of the scientists at the Atlanta airport as she traveled to Iran in September 2016. Prosecutors got an indictment in June 2018, and Soleimani was arrested in October.

The two former students – Mahboobe Ghaedi and Maryam Jazayeri – live in the U.S. and are free on bond. Soleimani remains in custody.

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