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.


US to pay over $1bn for 100m doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

Updated 48 min 14 sec ago

US to pay over $1bn for 100m doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

  • The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J
  • This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country

WASHINGTON: The United States government will pay Johnson & Johnson over $1 billion for 100 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, its latest such arrangement as the race to tame the pandemic intensifies, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.
It said it would deliver the vaccine to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on a not-for-profit basis to be used after approval or emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
J&J has already received $1 billion in funding from the US government — BARDA agreed in March to provide that money for the company to build manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of the experimental vaccine.
The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J. Including the first $1 billion deal with the USgovernment, the price would be slightly higher than the $19.50 per dose that the United States is paying for the vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc. and German biotech BioNTech SE.
The US government may also purchase an additional 200 million doses under a subsequent agreement. J&J did not disclose that deal’s value.
J&J plans to study a one- or two-dose regimen of the vaccine in parallel later this year. A single-shot regimen could allow more people to be vaccinated with the same number of doses and would sidestep issues around getting people to come back for their second dose.
This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country. Talks are underway with the European Union, but no deal has yet been reached.
J&J’s investigational vaccine is currently being tested on healthy volunteers in the United States and Belgium in an early-stage study.
There are currently no approved vaccines for COVID-19. More than 20 are in clinical trials.