Wife of Princeton student imprisoned in Iran pleads for help
The wife of a Princeton University graduate student imprisoned for more than a year in Iran is pleading for the government to help set him free.
Xiyue Wang was studying the Middle Eastern country’s Qajar dynasty as part of his PhD before he was arrested in August 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying under the cover of research.
His family has tried to secure his release, though his wife Qu Hua, who has previously said her husband’s health was declining, told NBC that he has attempted to kill himself in prison.
She is now asking for help.
“I hope President Trump can open up a dialogue with Iranian authorities to discuss a resolution of my husband's case,” she said.
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The 36-year-old Wang, a China-born U.S. citizen with one 4-year-old boy, studies 19th and 20th Century Eurasia, though authorities in Tehran say that he was acting as an American agent.
Footage aired on state television said that Wang tried to access confidential areas of libraries and take 4,500 documents. It showed footage of him in what appears to be a court room.
The clip also sees Wang talk about the benefit the U.S. could receive from more knowledge about Iran, though his words are brief and it was not clear in what context he made them.
Some observers viewed the video, released along with information on dual British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, as a means of pressuring the Western governments.
“He's innocent and he is just a student. He has no connection with any government agency, he's not doing any secret project for any agency, for any secret institution," Qu told NBC. "He was criminalized because of his citizenship."
Seven U.S. citizens or permanent residents are currently imprisoned in Iran.
Princeton has said that he described his research plans to Iranian authorities well in advance and did nothing outside the scope of his dissertation.
There was a brief lessening of tensions during the years Barack Obama and his counterpart Hassan Rouhani, from the moderate, reformist wing of Iranian politics, were both in office.
Trump has made the Islamic republic a prominent target, and taken actions against it including decertifying the landmark deal to curb its nuclear program.
Qu noted after the video release that it came before a December deadline for Congress to decide whether or not to reimpose sanctions on Iran taken away by the deal.