Researcher freed from Iran urges release of other prisoners

U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Edward McMullen greets Xiyue Wang in Zurich, Switzerland December 7, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 December 2019

Researcher freed from Iran urges release of other prisoners

  • Xiyue Wang and his wife, Hua Qu, said that the family is doing well and overjoyed by the support they have received
  • Wang was released on Dec. 7 as part of a prisoner exchange that saw America release a detained Iranian scientist

WASHINGTON: A Princeton University scholar who was freed from Iran this month after three years in captivity said Monday that his release “is a victory of humanity and diplomacy across nations and political differences."
Xiyue Wang and his wife, Hua Qu, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the family is doing well and overjoyed by the support they have received. They say their joy is tempered by the fact that other prisoners remain in Iran.
Wang was released on Dec. 7 as part of a prisoner exchange that saw America release a detained Iranian scientist. It was a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Tehran and Washington after months of tensions.
“Xiyue's release is a victory of humanity and diplomacy across nations and political differences," the couple said in a statement. "We urge world leaders to come together and find the compassion and common ground to free all political prisoners as soon as possible. Where there is a will, there is a way."
Wang, a Chinese-American academic, was arrested in Iran in 2016 while conducting research for a doctorate in late 19th- and early 20th-century Eurasian history, according to Princeton. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison there for allegedly “infiltrating” the country and sending confidential material abroad.
Wang's family and Princeton strongly denied the claims. The United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said “there was no legal basis for the arrest and detention.”
The prisoner trade took place on the tarmac of a Swiss airport, and Wang and Qu on Monday thanked officials in both the United States and Switzerland for facilitating it.
He was freed in exchange for scientist Massoud Soleimani, who was accused in the U.S. of violating sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran.
Multiple other hostages and detainees remain in Iran. They include Robert Levinson , a former FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, as well as U.S. Navy veteran Michael White, who is serving a 10-year espionage sentence.


At least two killed as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in German town

Updated 26 min 35 sec ago

At least two killed as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in German town

  • The driver was arrested and the vehicle was impounded, Trier police tweeted
  • Two people have died, and 15 others had suffered serious injuries

BERLIN: At least two people including a child were killed and up to 15 injured on Tuesday when a speeding car ploughed into a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier, authorities said.
Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed through the shopping zone.
Police said several people had been killed, having earlier put the death toll at two, with more than 10 injured. The local newspaper, the Trierischer Volksfreund, put the death toll at four, including a child, but police did not confirm that figure.
"We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured," police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area was being questioned, police said.
Mayor Wolfram Leibe had rushed to the scene.
"We have a driver who ran amok in the city. We have two dead that we are certain of and up to 15 injured, some of them with the most severe injuries," he told public broadcaster SWR.
"I just walked through the city centre and it was just horrible. There is a trainer lying on the ground, and the girl it belongs to is dead," he told a news conference, with tears stopping him from speaking further.
He told broadcaster N-TV that people who saw the incident were "totally traumatised" and the street "looks a bit like after a war".
Leibe said he did not know the motive for the incident, which shocked residents of Germany's oldest town, founded by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.
The Trierischer Volksfreund quoted an eyewitness as saying a Range Rover was driving at high speed and people had been thrown through the air. It said the car had Trier plates.
It reported that people screamed in panic when the car drove through the street.
Officers were scouring the area in search of evidence, backed by police dressed in flak jackets and carrying rifles. On the streets, Christmas lights twinkled incongruously.
Germany has tightened security on pedestrian zones across the country since a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people and injured dozens.
In October 2019, a man opened fire on a synagogue in the city of Halle. After failing to get into the building he went on a rampage outside, killing two people.
In February this year a racist gunman killed nine migrants in Hanau near Frankfurt before killing his mother and himself. Only about a week later, a local man ploughed his car into a carnival parade in the town of Volkmarsen, injuring 61.
Germany has tightened measures to fight the coronavirus, with bars and restaurants closed, but shops and schools are still open.
"What happened in Trier is shocking. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, with the numerous injured and with everyone who is currently on duty to care for the victims," Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Twitter.