Rouhani's brother arrested on financial charges: Judiciary

18 July, 2017, 03:18 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Brother of Iranian President Rouhani hospitalized after arrest

Iran has sentenced a Chinese-American Princeton University graduate student to 10 years imprisonment on espionage charges, an Iran judiciary spokesman says.

An article posted on Mizan Online, a website affiliated with Iran's judiciary, said Wang, 37, was born in Beijing and is a dual national of the United States and China.

This person, who was directly guided by the United States, was entered the country "under special conditions", he said, adding that he was arrested due to the vigilance of Iranian intelligence ministry forces.

A State Department official said: "We call for the immediate release of all USA citizens unjustly detained in Iran so they can return to their families".

Mr Wang is certainly not the first US citizen to be jailed in Iran - although all of the other current detainees are joint US-Iranian nationals.

We were very distressed by the charges brought against him in connection with his scholarly activities, and by his subsequent conviction and sentence.

Iran marked the two-year anniversary of the nuclear deal on July 14.

Other American dual nationals who have been taken into custody and remain in Iran include Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his 81-year-old father, Baquer Namazi. Wang is one of the several Americans arrested by Iran.

Trump has promised to tear up the 2015 deal struck between Iran and world powers, including the United States, that lifted some sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear programme.

The arrests have undermined Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's goals of reviving business and political ties with the West, as well as pushing for more political and social reforms at home, Iran experts and observers said.

Nearly a year ago, Iranian authorities arrested one of our graduate students, Xiyue Wang, and charged him with espionage even though he was in Iran exclusively for the objective of doing scholarly research and studying Farsi.

And when Tehran was rocked by a deadly terrorist attack in June that killed 12 people, the White House issued a statement essentially blaming Iran for the attack on its own citizens: "We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote". "The court has sentenced the person to 10 years". While remaining USA sanctions have slowed economic gains promised by the accord, signs that global interest in Iran is growing have disturbed some hardliners, who foresee their power waning.

Washington has repeatedly called for their release and also for Tehran's cooperation in the case of Robert Levinson, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007.

This is an attempt by Rouhani's opponents to portray "corruption as a weak point of his administration to weaken him both in the eyes of the global community and the Iranian population", said Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Wang's arrest also illuminates the tense political situation within Iran over the future of US-Iran relations.



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