Iran jails US-Chinese scholar for 'spying'

Iran sentences US-Chinese scholar to ten years in jail for 'spying'
2 min read
17 July, 2017
Iranian authorities sentenced a dual American-Chinese national to ten years in prison for allegedly spying for the US government.
The PhD student was accused of spying for the US government [File Photo: Getty]

A Chinese-born US dual national was sentenced to ten years in prison by Iranian authorities who accused him of spying for Washington.

The man, who was later identified as 37-year-old Xiyue Wang was convicted of being "an infiltrating American agent", Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i, spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, said, according to Mizan Online, a news agency affiliated with the judiciary.

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

"It became clear that he was involved in the infiltration project and the initial court has sentenced him to ten years but this could be appealed."

But a statement issued by the university where Wang was enrolled said it would do "everything it can to be supportive of Mr Wang and his family".

According to The Guardian, the university confirmed Wang as a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the department of history at Princeton University and travelled to Iran last summer.

The trip was "solely for the purpose of doing scholarly research on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty in connection with his PhD dissertation".

"We were very distressed to learn that charges were brought against him in connection with his scholarly work, and to learn of the subsequent conviction and sentence."

Iran and the US have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1979, and a new round of arrests by hard-line factions within Iran's security services is targeting those with Western ties in the wake of the nuclear accord.

Authorities, which have consistently warned against outside "infiltration", have detained a number of dual nationals accused of being involved in a so-called "infiltration network".

The US State Department slammed the latest sentencing and called for the release of all US citizens held in Iran.

"The Iranian regime continues to detain US citizens and other foreigners on fabricated national-security related changes," a press statement said.

"The safety and security of US citizens remains a top priority. All US citizens, especially dual nationals considering travel to Iran, should carefully read our latest travel warning."