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Trump admin. secures the release of US student jailed in Iran for three years on phony espionage charges


He was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison

ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration has secured the release of an American student who had been jailed in Iran for three years under accusations of espionage, according to CNN.

Xiyue Wang was released Saturday as part of a prisoner swap negotiated by the U.S. State Department. The Princeton University Ph.D. student is presently in Germany at an American Army Hospital where he is undergoing a medical evaluation before returning to the United States.

American graduate student jailed in Iran has been freed | ABC News

Wang's release was part of a prisoner swap where the United States freed Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist who had been arrested last year on trade violations.

'Our family is complete once again'

President Donald Trump announced Wang's release early Saturday morning in a brief statement that noted the role of U.S. ally Switzerland in securing the student's freedom:

After more than three years of being held prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the United States. A Princeton University graduate student, Mr. Wang had been held under the pretense of espionage since August 2016. We thank our Swiss partners for their assistance in negotiating Mr. Wang's release with Iran. The highest priority of the United States is the safety and well-being of its citizens. 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.

Wang's wife, Hua Qu, said "Our family is complete once again. 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."

Commenting on the release, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter that the Princeton University grad student had been held "on false charges." and that "Mr. Wang will soon be reunited with his wife and son, who have missed him dearly."

"We will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones," Pompeo added.

Arrested in 2016 on "completely false" charges

The Chinese-born Wang became a naturalized citizen in 2009 and was conducting research and studying the Farsi language in Tehran for his dissertation on 19th and early 20th century Eurasian studies when he was arrested on espionage charges in August 2016. According to Princeton University, prior to traveling to Iran, Wang sent letters to the Iranian Interest Section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., which issued his visa.

"He was very transparent about what he wanted to study and why, and about his desire to access documents housed at Iranian libraries and archives," the university said. "He was not involved in any political activities or social activism; he was simply a scholar trying to gain access to materials he needed for his dissertation."

In April 2017, Wang was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail at the notorious Evin Prison where he spent 18 days in solitary confinement. Neither his family nor Princeton ever saw the indictment, court records of the trial or the verdict. Iran claimed that Princeton "sent" Wang to "infiltrate" the country in connection with American intelligence agencies. The university said the charges were "completely false."

In February, Princeton graduate students held a "Day of Action" demanding that the Iranian regime release Wang.

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