An American graduate student who was jailed in Iran has finally been released. Xiyue Wang, 38 was held in Evin Prison in Tehran for three years after he was convicted of two counts of espionage in 2017, reports NBC News. He was sentenced to ten years but a prison swap between America and Iran helped Wang get released. In return, the United States has freed Iranian citizen Massoud Soleimani, who was being held in a prison in Atlanta. Massoud was jailed for violating U.S. sanctions.
Wang was released and flown to Switzerland and is now in Germany getting a medical evaluation at the US Army operated Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, reports CNN.
“We thank our Swiss partners for their assistance in negotiating Mr. Wang’s release with Iran,” President Trump said.
The Swiss government took over the final leg of the negotiation to get Wang free because the US and Iran do not have official diplomatic relations.
“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,” Trump said.
A senior US official said Xiyue Wang was in “good health” and “good spirits.”
Xiyue Wang was born in Beijing, China in 1980. He immigrated to the United States in 2001 and became a naturalized citizen in 2009. Wang was a fourth-year doctoral student of history at Princeton University when he went to Iran in 2016 to finish his dissertation.
“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,” the University said.
Iranian officials accused Wang of trying to “infiltrate” the country. He was arrested and convicted of two counts of espionage and sentenced to ten years in prison in 2017.
Wang’s wife, Hua Qu was working with Princeton to get her husband released. She urged the US government to get her husband released earlier this year after she saw rapper ASAP Rocky freed shortly after he was arrested in Switzerland. Hua said that her husband was a “bargaining chip” between Iran and the US.
She expressed her happiness on Saturday in a statement after her husband was released. “Our family is complete once again,” she said. “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.”