London, 11 Dec – Iran’s decision to transfer an imprisoned American doctoral student within Evin prison has increased fears for his safety, according to Human Rights Watch.
Xiyue Wang, a Princeton Ph.D. student and US citizen, was moved to Ward 7, where a Taliban inmate threatened him in the presence of a guard, on December 6, according to a valuable source.
That source told Human Rights Watch that this same inmate had previously made a threat on Wang’s life when they were both detained in Ward 209, which led to the Taliban inmate’s transfer to a different cell.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Iranian authorities do not limit unfair trials and mistreatment in custody to their own citizens but impose them on foreign nationals as well. To further threaten Xiyue Wang with physical harm is outright cruelty.”
Wang, 37, was arrested by Iranian authorities on August 8, 2016, whilst doing dissertation research into Iran at the turn of the 20th century and studying Farsi, as corroborated by Princeton University, but Iran has constantly claimed that he was working on behalf the US government.
In a statement, Princeton said: “His dissertation topic was not suggested to him by Princeton, the U.S. government, or anyone else… He has no connection to any government or intelligence agencies, and the charge that he was engaged in espionage is completely false. He studied the archival materials solely for his own research, and to our knowledge did not share them with anyone at Princeton or elsewhere.”
In July 2017, it was reported that Wang had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “cooperating with an enemy state”. This sentence was upheld by a court of appeal in September.
Iran has arrested several dual or foreign nationals on bogus charges of plotting the overthrow of the Regime or spying on behalf of a foreign government since the 2015 nuclear deal was agreed.
These include Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman and his 80-year-old father, Bagher Namazi, a former UNICEF representative, who are serving 10 years and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British charity worker, who is serving five years and is being threatened with new charges.
Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary, met with the Iranian officials this weekend to discuss Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case.
Whitson said: “Iran should stop using the arbitrary arrest and mistreatment of foreign nationals as a component of its foreign policy and treat everyone, citizen and foreigner alike, with respect for their basic human rights.”