Iran-Tehran Flags
Iran-Tehran FlagsIsrael news photo: Montage by A7 Staff

An Iranian graduate student at the University of Texas may face years of prison to pay for his education.

Omid Kokabee went on trial Tuesday in Tehran. He is accused of maintaining relations with a hostile nation and receiving illegitimate funds, his attorney told the Associated Press.

Kokabee has pleaded not guilty to both charges, attorney Saeed Khalili said. If convicted, the U. Texas student could face up to 10 years in prison. 

Khalili may also not be entirely safe: the Iranian lawyer who represented two US hikers freed last week from a similar situation has been barred from leaving the country.

The hikers, accused of espionage and illegally entering the country, were freed after years of diplomatic wrangling.

Their lawyer, Masoud Shafii, discovered his own danger Sunday as he was boarding a plane for the U.S. when his passport was suddenly confiscated by order of the judiciary and he was taken off the plane. He was subsequently arrested at his home. Officials confiscated his computer and documents, but later returned them.

The lawyer now defending a 33-year-old Christian pastor facing death by hanging in Iran was also arrested and later sentenced to jail time. 

Attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhan was sentenced to nine years in prison for “actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime.”

The final appeal for Yousof Nadarkhani will be heard next week in Iranian Supreme Court. He was convicted two years ago for his refusal to  return to Islam and abandon his Christianity.