Forty Nobel laureates have given a call for the release of Dr. Sen on bail immediately, and for the expeditious hearing of his case.

A group of 40 Nobel laureates from 12 countries has signed a petition for the immediate release on bail of activist-doctor Binayak Sen. Following the lead of Amartya Sen, these laureates have also expressed their support for Dr. Sen.

The senior-most laureate in the group is 91-year-old French scientist François Jacob (Nobel Prize, 1965). It also includes Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who won the award in 2009, Joseph Murray who pioneered kidney transplantation, and Baruch Samuel Blumberg who identified the Hepatitis B virus.

The text of the letter says: “We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, respectfully express our astonishment and dismay at the unjust life sentence handed down last month in India to a fellow scientist and human rights advocate, 61-year-old Dr. Binayak Sen.

“We note that, when Dr. Sen was on trial in 2008 and many of us appealed for his release on bail, a year later the Supreme Court of India concurred with our opinion and ordered his immediate release. Several months after voicing our concern about Dr. Sen's detention, one of us travelled to Chhattisgarh; met government officials; consulted Dr. Sen's family, lawyers, and colleagues; visited his remote clinic to learn more about his selfless work with the Adivasis; and, after a few days and many hours spent waiting in the Raipur prison yard, finally met with Dr. Sen himself in the presence of the prison warden.

“We have seen that Dr. Sen is an exceptional, courageous, and selfless colleague, dedicated to helping those in India who are least able to help themselves. Yet his recompense has been two years in prison under difficult conditions, a blatantly unfair trial lasting two years in the so-called ‘Fast Track' Sessions Court, an unjust conviction of sedition and conspiracy, and condemnation to life imprisonment.

“We earnestly hope that our renewed appeal is heard. We know that there are leaders in India who have the power, humanity, patriotism, and decency to speak out against this injustice. We entreat those leaders to act now, to urge Dr. Sen's immediate release on bail, and insist that this time his appeal is heard without delay under the highest standards of Indian law.

“Surely, those who would see the largest democracy in the world survive and thrive can do no less at this crucial time for both Dr. Sen and for the future of justice in India.”

The signatories: Peter Agre, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2003; Kenneth J. Arrow, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 1972; Richard Axel, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2004; David Baltimore, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1975; Martin Chalfie, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2008; Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1997; Robert Curl, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996; Johann Deisenhofer, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1988; Richard R. Ernst, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1991, and Edmond H. Fischer, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1992;

Walter Gilbert, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1980; Roy J. Glauber, Nobel Prize in Physics, 2005; Paul Greengard, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2000; David J. Gross, Nobel Prize in Physics, 2004; Roger Guillemin, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1977; Dudley Herschbach, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986; Antony Hewish, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1974, and H. Robert Horvitz, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2002;

François Jacob, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1965; Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 2002; Eric R. Kandel, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2000; Lawrence R. Klein, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 1980; Roger D. Kornberg, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2006, and Sir Harold W. Kroto, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996;

Finn E. Kydland, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 2004; Yuan T. Lee, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986; Rita Levi-Montalcini, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1986; Roderick MacKinnon, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2003; Sir James Mirrlees, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 1996; Joseph E. Murray, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1990; Douglas D. Osheroff, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1996, and John C. Polanyi, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986;

V. Ramakrishnan, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2009; Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1993; Jens C. Skou, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1998; Jack Steinberger, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1988; Sir John Sulston, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2002; Charles H. Townes, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1964; Klaus von Klitzing, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1985, and Torsten N. Wiesel, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1981.