Free Xiyue Wang
- US PhD student Xiyue Wang has been freed as part of a prisoner swap deal with Iran that also saw Iranian academic Massoud Soleiami released.
- Wang, a Princeton graduate history student, was sentenced in April 2017 to 10 years in prison on espionage charges his family maintains are fabricated.
- "Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it's hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue. We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen," said Wang's wife, Hua Qu, in a message on Twitter.
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US man Xiyue Wang is headed back home after three years in jail after a prisoner swap deal was brokered with Iran, US President Donald Trump said in a statement.
Wang, 38, is a Princeton graduate student who travelled to Iran in 2016 to research his thesis, where he was arrested and accused of espionage.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Zarif in a tweet said that as part of the deal, Iranian national Massoud Soleiami, who was arrested in the US in 2018 for attempting to breach US economic sanctions on Iran, will be freed.
"Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly," Zarif tweeted Saturday. "Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government."
Zarif tweeted a picture of himself accompanying Soleiami home.
—Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 7, 2019
President Trump said that Wang had been "held under the pretense of espionage."
"Freeing Americans held captive is of vital importance to my Administration, and we will continue to work hard to bring home all our citizens wrongfully held captive overseas," the statement said.
In a message posted on Twitter Wang's wife, Hua Qu, expressed her joy at the news.
"Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it's hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue. We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen," she said.
—Free Xiyue Wang (@FreeXiyueWang) December 7, 2019
Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2017 on two counts of espionage, and was held in Tehran's Evin prison — where many political prisoners and foreign prisoners are detained.
His family say the charges were fabricated, and the US state Department has said that Wang was not working on behalf of any US government agencies.
Princeton University had helped with efforts to secure his release.
He had been one of four Americans believed to be held prisoner in Iran, with father and son Siamak and Baquer Namazi, US Navy veteran Michael White, and former FBI agent Robert Levison, still believed to be detained.
The deal comes after months of increasing tensions between Iran and the US, with the Trump administration having imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran as part of a bid to pressure Iran to renegotiate a deal limiting its nuclear program.
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