On August 7, 2016 Mr. Wang, while completing research on his PhD dissertation, was detained in solitary confinement for 18 days and has been imprisoned since that date. He was sentenced on July 16, 2017 to ten years for ‘collaboration with a hostile state’ and “espionage”.
Mr. Wang’s physical and emotional health has been deteriorating over this time: denied proper medical care and subjected to poor prison conditions. Mr. Wang, a doctoral student in the Department of History at Princeton University, was studying the history of Europe and Asia. He was researching local governance issues during the late Qajar and early Pahlavi periods of historical Persia. He was working on a dissertation that involved reviewing archival documents that were over 100 years old. With the Authorization of the Iranian Government and the backing of his graduate program at Princeton, Mr. Wang had made two trips to Iran on a student visa issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowing him to pursue pre-dissertation research. The first trip went without incident (though Mr. Wang had some suspicions that his computer had been hacked.) The second trip, with a research plan approved by the Iranian government and a grant from Princeton’s Department of History to cover his travel and expenses while in the country. A guard at the National Archives was uncomfortable with Mr. Wang’s presence and suggested to authorities that he might be a spy. Mr. Wang was unconcerned as he had been authorized to work in the Archives Department with his research approved by the Iranian government. He already had plans to return within 10 days to Princeton on July 17, 2016. CCS has written the attached letter to President Hassan Rouhani requesting him to review this case, drop the charges against Mr. Wang and release him. CCS has also requested that, upon release, he be transported to a good hospital for immediate proper medical care.
President Hassan Rouhani
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We are writing on behalf of Xiyue Wang, a doctoral student and United States citizen attending Princeton University. In August of 2017 CCS sent you a letter detailing Wang’s situation. He is still confined and has now been sentenced to ten years in prison. Wang was in Iran conducting research on his doctoral thesis, involving 19th and 20th Century Eurasian history. He was in Iran doing scholarly research on the Qajar dynasty, according to his University. He has been charged with espionage for downloading documents that were said to be an infiltration of the Iranian archive. The documents, however, were for his research and are over 100 years old.
Wang is a highly-respected student and researcher who is well known and admired within his school community.
The Islamic Republic of Iran must respect the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which they are a signatory, and allow Mr. Wang to be released. Additionally, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention investigated Wang’s case and issued a statement on August 29, 2018 stating that Mr. Wang’s right to peaceful freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial had been violated and that there was no legal basis for his arrest nor detention. Mr. Wang and his family are suffering greatly from this situation. He has now been imprisoned for over two years, his health is deteriorating, he has not received the necessary medical care, and is subjected to poor prison conditions. His five-year-old son barely knows his father.
We would welcome your review of this case and overturn this sentence, drop the charges and release Mr. Wang. We, his friends and colleagues, together with other organizations including his University and Scholars at Risk, are calling for Wang’s immediate release and speedy return to his family and academia.
We are also asking that Mr. Wang, until released, be assured of the requisite medical care needed, and that upon release, he be transferred to a good hospital to further his care.
Thank you for your attention to this case and we look forward to a response from you soon.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
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