Activists challenged the imprisonment of renowned Iranian AIDS physicians Arash Alaei, MD, and his brother, Kamiar Alaei, MD, at rallies in New York City and in 20 countries around the globe, Inter-Press Service reports. Their work on HIV prevention and treatment is credited with earning Iran recognition as a model of best practices by the World Health Organization.

“The Alaei brothers were arrested for doing good medicine,” said Peter Witzler from the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), the group that organized the protest. The brothers were arrested last June when the Iranian officials accused the doctors of using their HIV/AIDS work to destabilize the government.

The Alaeis’ lawyers filed one last appeal for their release May 7. According to Witzler, the Iranian court turn down their first appeal. If the court rejects the final appeal, Kamiar and Arash will be imprisoned for three years and six years, respectively.