Iran de­tains pres­i­dent’s brother, sen­tences Amer­i­can

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Iran’s ju­di­ciary said Sun­day that the brother of Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani has been de­tained, and a Chi­nese-Amer­i­can cit­i­zen sen­tenced to 10 years be­hind bars for “in­fil­trat­ing’’ the coun­try.

The Chi­nese-Amer­i­can na­tional was iden­ti­fied as Xiyue Wang, 37, and en­tered Iran as a stu­dent, ac­cord­ing to Mizan On­line, a web­site af­fil­i­ated with the ju­di­ciary. Wang was not pre­vi­ously known to have been among the Amer­i­cans de­tained in Iran. Ju­di­ciary spokesman Gho­lamho­sein Mohseni Ejehi an­nounced both de­vel­op­ments dur­ing a reg­u­lar press brief­ing with lo­cal jour­nal­ists.

He said Rouhani’s brother, Hos­sein Ferei­doun, was taken into cus­tody over al­le­ga­tions of fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety and is el­i­gi­ble for bail, but has not paid it yet. Ferei­doun is a close con­fi­dante of the mod­er­ate pres­i­dent, a cleric who changed his sur­name to Rouhani, mean­ing “spir­i­tual,’’ af­ter join­ing the sem­i­nary decades ago.

Ferei­doun was part of the ne­go­ti­at­ing team that ul­ti­mately sealed Iran’s land­mark nu­clear deal with world pow­ers in 2015, win­ning the coun­try re­lief from in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions in ex­change for lim­its on its atomic en­ergy pro­gram.

The deal was un­pop­u­lar with Ira­nian hard-lin­ers, whose in­flu­ence runs deep within the ju­di­ciary. They saw the nu­clear deal as giv­ing too much away in ex­change for too lit­tle.

Ferei­doun has long been a tar­get of hard-lin­ers, who have ac­cused him of mis­deeds in­clud­ing money laun­der­ing and mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of gov­ern­ment funds. The un­proven al­le­ga­tions were a flash­point dur­ing the May pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, with the pres­i­dent’s hard-line chal­lengers de­mand­ing that the ju­di­ciary in­ves­ti­gate ac­cu­sa­tions against Ferei­doun. Rouhani trounced his near­est op­po­nent to se­cure a sec­ond term in of­fice in the first round of vot­ing.

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