Appeals Court Upholds 10-Year Sentence Against Princeton Student Xiyue Wang
An Iranian Appeals Court has upheld the 10-year prison sentence against American graduate student Xiyue Wang, held since the summer of 2016 on unspecified espionage charges shrouded in secrecy by judicial officials.
“We are distressed that his appeal was denied, and that he remains unjustly imprisoned,” said an official statement released on August 18, 2017 by Princeton University, where Wang is a doctoral student.
“Mr. Wang has already been kept apart from his wife and four-year-old son for more than a year. The university continues to hope that the Iranian authorities will allow this genuine scholar, devoted husband, and caring father to return to his doctoral studies and his family. We will continue to do everything we can to be supportive of Mr. Wang and his family, and of efforts to seek his safe return home.”
Wang, a 37-year-old PhD student in history and naturalized American citizen from China, was conducting research in Tehran’s archive centers for his thesis when he was arrested in the summer of 2016. According to Princeton officials, he was studying Eurasian languages and regional governance practices in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“Our young son and I have not seen Xiyue in more than a year, and we miss him very much,” Wang’s wife Hua Qu told the Princeton Planet on August 17.
“The past year has been extremely difficult for our family. We constantly worry about Xiyue’s health and well-being as he remains behind bars in a foreign country away from his family and loved ones,” she said. “This time has been particularly difficult for my toddler son, who misses his father very much, but is too young to fully comprehend why he is not able to see, hold, or play with his father.”
“It is heartbreaking to hear my son constantly ask about his father’s return home,” she added.
To date, judicial officials have not commented on the results of Wang’s appeal.
“He was identified and arrested by Intelligence Ministry agents and it became obvious that he was involved in gathering intelligence,” said Iran’s Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei on July 16, 2017, without pointing to any evidence or providing any details about the charges against Wang.
While judicial officials have remained mostly silent on Wang’s case, the official news agency of the Judiciary, Mizan, printed an article in July 2017 describing Wang as a “spy disguised as a researcher” who “digitally recorded 4,500 pages of official documents” from libraries in Tehran and Iranian academics.
The article also failed to provide any evidence or details about Wang’s case or defense.
On July 21, the White House warned that “President Trump is prepared to impose new and serious consequences on Iran unless all unjustly imprisoned American citizens are released and returned.”
“For nearly forty years, Iran has used detentions and hostage-taking as a tool of state policy, a practice that continues to this day with the recent sentencing of Xiyue Wang to ten years in prison,” said the statement.
At least 10 foreign nationals are currently imprisoned in Iran, including three with US citizenship: Siamak Namazi, his father Baquer Namazi, and Karan Vafadari.