Iran sentences Chinese-American researcher for alleged infiltration into country

Elias Hubbard
July 17, 2017

"He had entered the country through a special connection but the ministry of intelligence identified him and arrested him", said spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i.

Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie, deputy judiciary chief, told at a press conference that Fereydoun, a top aide to the president, was jailed because he failed to pay the bail set by the judiciary.

It was not immediately clear whether Mohseni Ejei was referring to Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen with permanent USA residency, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $4.2mn after he was found guilty of collaborating against the state, according to his US-based lawyer who spoke to reporters in September.

Fereidoun is eligible for bail, but has not yet paid it, The Guardian adds.

"Xiyue Wang is a remarkable, linguistically gifted graduate student studying late 19th- and early 20th-century governance in predominantly Muslim regions - Qajar Iran, Afghanistan, imperial Russian Turkestan", he said.

The report said the man was part of "an infiltration project" to collect "highly confidential articles" for U.S. and British organizations, including Princeton, the U.S. State Department, Harvard University, and the British Institute for Persian Studies.

In a statement to NPR, a U.S. State Department official acknowledged reports of its jailed citizen, but did not comment specifically on its efforts "for privacy reasons". The judiciary's Mizan News Agency said Wang had "spider connections" with USA and British intelligence services.

According to an informed source, the spy is a 37-year-old Chinese-born American dual national with a good command on Persian language who had been trying to access Iran's classified documents under the guise of a historical researcher. "All US citizens, especially dual nationals, considering travel to Iran should carefully read our latest travel warning‎."‎.

In October, U.S. -Iranian business consultant Siamak Namazi and his 80-year-old father, Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official, were sentenced to 10 years in prison for "espionage and collaboration with the American government".

The US State Department, meanwhile, has called for "the immediate release of all US citizens unjustly detained in Iran". It published screenshots of Wang's Princeton web page and an excerpt of a March 2016 report from the British institute that quoted Wang as saying he had been in contact with "senior scholars" at Iranian government archives in Tehran and Mashhad.

Also Sunday, the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was detained for unspecified financial crimes, the judicial spokesman said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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