'I won't survive': Iranian scientist in US detention says Ice will let Covid-19 kill many
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Although he was exonerated, Dr Sirous Asgari remains locked up and tells the Guardian ‘inhumane’ jail is denying detainees masks and hand sanitizer
By Sam Levin in Los Angeles
Fri 27 Mar 2020 00.45 GMT
An Iranian scientist who was exonerated in a US sanctions trial but remains jailed by immigration authorities said the conditions in detention were filthy and overcrowded – and officials were doing little to prevent a deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Dr Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor, was acquitted in November on federal charges of stealing trade secrets related to his academic work with a university in Ohio. Although the US government lost its case on all charges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has kept him indefinitely detained since the trial. Now he’s speaking out about the “inhumane” treatment that could cost him his life.
Asgari, 59, told the Guardian that his Ice holding facility in Alexandria, Louisiana, had no basic cleaning practices in place and continued to bring in new detainees from across the country with no strategy to minimize the threat of Covid-19.
In a phone call from the Alexandria Staging Facility (ASF), he said he believed the only safe option would be to shut down the facility due to the deplorable conditions. ASF is a 400-bed site where people are supposed to be detained for no more than 72 hours, typically a final stop before they are deported. But with Covid-19 travel restrictions and flight cancellations, Ice has been holding