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.


90-minute British DnaNudge COVID-19 test is accurate, Lancet study finds

Updated 18 September 2020

90-minute British DnaNudge COVID-19 test is accurate, Lancet study finds

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC radio that Britain was rolling out the tests across hospitals
  • Hancock said the machines could also be deployed at other locations such as schools

LONDON: A British COVID-19 test known as DnaNudge that gives results in just over an hour and which requires no laboratory was accurate in almost all cases, an academic review in the Lancet has found.
Faster testing could allow more people to return to work or permit testing on entry to hospital, thus slowing a second spike in coronavirus infections.
The new test, based on the design of a DNA test developed by a professor at Imperial College London, received approval for clinical use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) at the end of April after successful trials.
In a study in The Lancet Microbe, the test was found to have an average sensitivity – the ability to correctly identify those with COVID-19 – of 94.4% and a specificity – correctly identifying those without the disease – of 100%.
“These results suggest that the CovidNudge test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” Professor Graham Cooke, lead author of the study from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, said.
The Lancet paper described the test, which requires one nostril swab, as “a sensitive, specific, and rapid point of care test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 without laboratory handling or sample pre-processing.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC radio that Britain was rolling out the tests across hospitals.
“The critical thing in terms of usefulness is that the machine doesn’t need to be in a lab — it is about the size of a shoebox — therefore you can put one, say, in an A&E (accident and emergency) department and they can know whether people coming in have got the coronavirus or not,” Hancock said.
Hancock said the machines could also be deployed at other locations such as schools.
Each box can run one test at a time so could process about 16 tests per day, said a spokeswoman for the company that produces the tests.