Princeton University grad student accused of spying is sentenced to prison in Iran (Updated)


Xiyue Wang

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
A Princeton University graduate student doing research in Iran was sentenced in that country to 10 years in prison for what the Iranian government claimed was spying for the United States.
Xiyue Wang had been arrested last August, with a spokesman for the Iranian state judiciary announcing on Sunday that the sentence had been handed down.
The spokesman claimed Xiuye was “directly guided by the U.S.,” according to Iranian news.
The university, in a statement, said that Xiyue, 37, a naturalized US citizen, had been in Iran “doing scholarly research on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation.” He is a fourth-year graduate student in the history department, the university said.
In a statement, his wife, Hua Qu, said this week that her husband is being held in prison “unjustly.”
“My husband, Xiyue Wang, is one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and most loving men I have ever known. He has been a devoted husband to me and a father to our four-year-old son,” she said. “Our son has missed his father for more than a year of his young life, as my husband has been unjustly imprisoned for espionage that I know he did not and never would commit. My husband has long been deeply interested in 19th and early 20th century Eurasian history, and he was in Iran last summer solely for purposes of learning Farsi and doing scholarly research for his Ph.D. dissertation as a graduate student in history at Princeton University. We fervently hope that the Iranian authorities will release him soon so that he can return home to his young family.”
His sentence can be appealed.
Nassau Hall said it had been trying to secure his release.
“We were very distressed by the charges brought against him in connection with his scholarly activities, and by his subsequent conviction and sentence,” the statement said. “His family and the university are distressed at his continued imprisonment and are hopeful that he will be released after his case is heard by the appellate authorities in Tehran. In the interim, the university will continue to do everything it can to be supportive of Mr. Wang and his family.”
For its part, the Trump administration declined to elaborate on any specifics of his case.
“We are aware of reports regarding Xiyue Wang, a U.S. citizen detained in Iran.‎ For privacy reasons, we are not going to detail efforts in specific consular cases,” a State Department spokesman said in a statement.
“The safety and security of U.S. citizens remains a top priority,” the spokesman said. “We continue to use all the means at our disposal to advocate for U.S. citizens who need our assistance overseas especially for the release of any unjustly detained U.S. citizens held overseas. We call for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Iran so they can return to their families.”