TEHRAN, IRAN (AP) - An Iranian court sentenced a Chinese-American man to 10 years in prison on espionage charges, Iranian news agencies reported Sunday.
The news services, citing judiciary authorities, also said the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had been detained amid allegations of financial improprieties.
Iran's mizan.online identified the Chinese-American as Xiyue Wang, 37, who had studied history at Princeton University in recent years and entered Iran as a researcher. The website said he was born in Beijing and holds duel citizenship. It said he was arrested about a year ago.
Iranian authorities accused Wang of passing information to the U.S. State Department, Princeton's Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
"This person, who was gathering intelligence and was directly guided by the U.S., was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the sentence can be appealed," Iran's Judiciary spokesman, Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi, said on state TV.
Princeton confirmed the sentencing to USA TODAY. University spokesman Daniel Day said Wang is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in late 19th- and early 20th-century Eurasian history.
Day said Wang was conducting scholarly research on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation. Since his arrest, the university has worked with Wang's family, the U.S. government, private counsel and others trying to get Wang freed, Day said.
"We were very distressed by the charges brought against him in connection with his scholarly activities, and by his subsequent conviction and sentence," Day said. "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."
Since Iran and the West reached a nuclear deal two years ago, restrictions on business dealings between the two countries have eased. Still, the State Department has repeatedly warned against the dangers of Americans traveling to Iran.
Others being detained include Iranian-American art gallery manager Karan Vafadari and his wife, Afarin Niasari, who have been held since last year, and Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, who are serving 10-year sentences after being convicted of espionage in November.
“The Iranian regime continues to detain U.S. citizens and other foreigners on fabricated national-security related changes,” the State Department said in a statement to the Associated Press. “We call for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Iran so they can return to their families.”
Ejehi also announced that Hossein Fereidoun, the brother of Rouhani, was sent to prison on Sunday over financial charges. Ejehi said Fereidoun had been subject to various probes, and some people around him also are being investigated for over undisclosed financial matters.
Fereidoun will be released if and when he posts bail, Mohseni-Ejei said.
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