Iran sentences Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang to 10 years on spying charges.

Iran Sentences Princeton Graduate Student to 10 Years on Spying Charges

Iran Sentences Princeton Graduate Student to 10 Years on Spying Charges

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July 16 2017 7:18 PM

Iran Sentences Princeton Graduate Student to 10 Years on Spying Charges

Newly re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a televised speech in the capital Tehran on May 20, 2017.

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An Iranian court sentenced a Chinese-American student to a decade behind bars on charges of spying for the United States. Xiyue Wang, a graduate student in history had seemingly vanished in Iran months ago while doing research for his doctoral thesis. Although there had been rumors of his arrest, news of his sentencing was the first time Iran officially confirmed the news.

“It was verified and determined that he was gathering (information) and was involved in infiltration,” judicial spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi said at a news conference in Tehran. The judiciary’s Mizan News Agency said Wang had “spider connections” with U.S. and British intelligence services.


Princeton University confirmed that Wang is a fourth-year graduate student working on his doctorate. “He was arrested in Iran last summer, while there doing scholarly research on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation,” Daniel Day, Princeton’s vice president of communications, said Sunday. “Since his arrest, the university has worked with Mr. Wang’s family, the U.S. government, private counsel and others to facilitate his release.” Although the university had known about the arrest for months it had avoided publicizing the issue in an effort to quietly get Wang freed.

The news is likely to raise already-high tensions between Washington and Tehran at a time when President Trump has to decide whether Iran is honoring its side of the nuclear deal that the commander in chief has often criticized. “The Iranian regime continues to detain U.S. citizens and other foreigners on fabricated national-security related changes,” a State Department official said in an emailed statement on Sunday. “We call for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Iran so they can return to their families.” At least three other Americans are thought to be imprisoned in Iran although the number could be higher.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.