‘Re­searcher jailed in Iran is in­no­cent’

Wang’s fam­ily dis­tressed

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates, July 17, (AP): A Chi­nese-Amer­i­can grad­u­ate stu­dent sen­tenced to 10 years in prison in Iran for al­legedly “in­fil­trat­ing” the coun­try and send­ing con­fi­den­tial ma­te­rial abroad is in­no­cent of all charges against him, his ad­vis­ing pro­fes­sor at Prince­ton Univer­sity said on Mon­day.

The univer­sity said separately that it is “very dis­tressed” by the charges lev­eled against Xiyue Wang while he was car­ry­ing out schol­arly re­search in the Is­lamic Repub­lic. It has been work­ing Wang’s fam­ily, the US gov­ern­ment, lawyers and oth­ers to se­cure his re­lease, it added.

“His fam­ily and the univer­sity are dis­tressed at his con­tin­ued im­pris­on­ment and are hope­ful that he will be re­leased af­ter his case is heard by the ap­pel­late au­thor­i­ties in Tehran,” the univer­sity said.

Iran’s ju­di­ciary an­nounced Wang’s con­vic­tion dur­ing a rou­tine press con­fer­ence on Sun­day; he was not pre­vi­ously known to be among the hand­ful of Amer­i­cans de­tained in Iran.

An ar­ti­cle posted on Mizan On­line, a web­site af­fil­i­ated with the ju­di­ciary, said 37-year-old Wang was born in Bei­jing and en­tered Iran as a re­searcher. It de­scribed him as flu­ent in Per­sian.

He was ar­rested on Aug 8, 2016 and is ac­cused of pass­ing con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion about Iran to the US State Depart­ment, Prince­ton’s Sharmin and Bi­jan Mos­savar-Rah­mani Cen­ter for Iran and Per­sian Gulf Stud­ies, the Har­vard Kennedy School and the Bri­tish In­sti­tute of Per­sian Stud­ies, ac­cord­ing to the web­site. It al­leged he recorded some 4,500 pages of dig­i­tal doc­u­ments.

Prince­ton Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Stephen Kotkin, who has served as Wang’s doc­toral ad­viser, de­fended him in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

“Xiyue Wang is a re­mark­able, lin­guis­ti­cally gifted grad­u­ate stu­dent,” he wrote. “He is in­no­cent of all the charges.”

The doc­u­ments Wang col­lected were 100 years old, Kotkin said, adding that Wang “has told me of­ten of his ex­hil­a­ra­tion at the exquisite­ness and depth of Per­sian civ­i­liza­tion.”

Wang

Ar­rested

In its state­ment, Prince­ton said Wang was ar­rested while con­duct­ing re­search on the 1794-1925 Qa­jar dy­nasty for his doc­tor­ate in late 19th and early 20th cen­tury Eurasian history.

A photo of Wang on Prince­ton’s history depart­ment shows him pos­ing un­der a plaque at the en­trance of China’s of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency’s bureau in Kabul, Afghanistan.

A short bio on the Prince­ton in Asia web­site said Wang had been a fel­low in Hong Kong in 2008-2009, had com­pleted a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in South Asian stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton and did Rus­sian and Eurasian stud­ies at Har­vard.

“For bet­ter or worse, he still can’t tell you what ex­actly he has been study­ing in the many years that have passed,” the site said. “What he does know is that his dream is to walk the an­cient Silk Road from Xi’an to Rome one day.”

The US State Depart­ment has not pro­vided de­tails on the case but called on Tehran to im­me­di­ately re­lease “all US cit­i­zens un­justly de­tained in Iran.” The US does not main­tain for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions with Tehran and warns its cit­i­zens trav­el­ing there that they risk ar­rest or be­ing barred from leav­ing Iran.

“The Ira­nian regime con­tin­ues to de­tain US cit­i­zens and other for­eign­ers on fabri­cated na­tional-se­cu­rity re­lated changes,” it said in a state­ment to the AP.

Other Amer­i­cans who re­main in Ira­nian cus­tody in­clude Ira­nian-Amer­i­can art gallery man­ager Karan Vafadari, who was de­tained along with his Ira­nian wife last year. They have yet to be con­victed of a crime.

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