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January 24, 2021 6:15 pm

American Who Was Political Prisoner in Iran Slams Possible Appointment of Robert Malley as Special Envoy

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US diplomat Robert Malley. Photo: International Peace Institute.

An American citizen who was held for over three years on false charges by Iran slammed the possible appointment of Robert Malley as a special envoy to the Islamic republic.

Malley, a long-time US diplomat who currently heads the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC, is being considered for the post in the Biden administration, Jewish Insider reported Wednesday.

He is widely considered an advocate of rapprochement between the US and Iran, having served as a leading negotiator for the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal. Malley has also been accused of anti-Israel views, such as laying blame on Israel for the failure of the 2000 Camp David summit, in which Yasser Arafat rejected a peace agreement with the Jewish state.

Xiyue Wang was arrested in Iran while conducting research for his doctorate at Princeton University. He received a 10-year sentence for espionage, though he claims his captors explicitly told him that they knew he was not guilty. He was finally released in Dec. 2019.

On Friday, Wang wrote on Twitter, “During my imprisonment Mr. Malley was a senior White House official. He played no positive role in facilitating my release, a view shared by present and past hostages and their families.”

“If he is appointed, it’d suggest releasing US hostages from Iran won’t be a priority,” Wang said.

Wang also cited statements by President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state Antony Blinken, who advocated a more stringent nuclear deal with Iran.

“More importantly, Malley’s appointment will convey to Tehran that Sec. Blinken’s principled remarks on strengthening the JCPOA, working with regional partners, and standing up for human rights in Iran were merely empty words,” he added.

Wang’s comments came after praise of the possible appointment from the former architect of Barack Obama’s foreign policy, Ben Rhodes, who has expressed praise for the idea of dismantling Israel as a Jewish state.

“There’s literally no one better to pursue diplomacy with Iran than Rob Malley,” Rhodes had said Friday. “Which is why the cheerleaders for Trump’s catastrophic Iran policy are concerned: they don’t want diplomacy.”

National security correspondent Eli Lake agreed with Wang, commenting, “Biden’s done a good job so far reassuring regional allies on Iran, appointing @Rob_Malley as US envoy on Iran would undermine that.”

Other figures on the left besides Rhodes also praised Malley, including Senator Bernie Sanders, who surrounded himself with anti-Israel and pro-Iran advisors during his presidential campaigns.

“Rob Malley is an extremely knowledgeable expert with great experience in promoting US security through diplomacy rather than war,” Sanders wrote. “He would be an excellent choice for the role of Iran envoy.”

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