A New York-based think tank on Friday urged Princeton University to disaffiliate from a global affairs scholar and ex-Iranian official over his recent appearance in a documentary in which he seemed to "gleefully" discuss threats to the family of a former US diplomat.
Footage from the film praising Qassem Soleimani — the late commander of Iran's Quds Force, who was assassinated in 2020 by a US drone strike — circulated on social media last week. It appeared to show Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian ambassador to Germany and currently a Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at Princeton's Program on Science and Global Security, callously describing Iranian death threats against the family of Brian Hook, who served in the Trump administration when Solemani was killed.
Mousavian "recently sounded gleeful over the fact that American citizens and their families were concerned by death threats received from supporters of the Iranian regime in a documentary lauding the late Commander of the IRGC Quds Force Qassem Soleimani," wrote the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) Chairman, former US Senator Joe Lieberman, and CEO Mark D. Wallace, a former US Ambassador to the United Nations.
"UANI strongly condemns Mousavian and calls upon Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber to dismiss him from any association or affiliation with Princeton without delay," the two wrote. "His gleefulness at Americans who fear reprisals at the hands of the Islamic Republic should be cause for universal condemnation."
According to a translation of the footage by the UK-based Persian news channel Iran International, Mousavian recounted that an "American told me that Brian Hook's wife had not slept for several days and that she was shaking and crying. That's how afraid they were."
On the second anniversary of the death of Soleimani earlier this month, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called for "God's ruling" to be carried out Trump for the airstrike, which also killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The UANI think tank also linked Mousavian's tenure as Iran's Germany envoy to the 1992 killings in Berlin of four Iranian Kurdish dissidents, citing a German court finding, and noted that Mousavian attended Solemani's funeral in 2020.
Neither Mousavian nor Princeton University responded to Algemeiner requests for comment in time for publication.
On Sunday, Mousavian cast his remarks in the film as an expression of concern, writing on Twitter, "In an interview, I mentioned that US/Iran mutual threats, cause harms to families which is a fact. I always have reiterated that the US and Iran should avoid threatening and the use of force and resolve their dispute through diplomacy."
"By mentioning Brian Hook's family trembling with fear, in an interview, I warned on the humanitarian consequences of mutual threat exchange between Iran and the US, and its impact on the families," he said. "Any other interpretation of my statement is false and hereby is rejected."
Responding to that defense Sunday evening, Xiyue Wang — a Princeton PhD student in history and Iran analyst who was held captive by the Iranian regime for over three years — called Mousavian "a shameless liar, but not a good one."
"Having seen him gleefully gloating over the IRGC death threat to an ex senior US official in an IRGC propaganda film, would anyone believe Mousavian's professed humanitarian consideration here?" Wang commented.