American Citizen Xiyue Wang Held in Iran Since 2016 Coming Home
American citizen Xiyue Wang, a PhD candidate at Princeton, went to Iran in 2016 to research history. He was arrested and accused of spying, and spent three years of a 10 year sentence in an Iran’s notorious Evin prison. Today, he is in Landstuhl, Germany being examined by doctors in preparation for his homecoming. The American citizen has been freed in exchange for an Iranian scientist named Massoud Soleimani. (Fox)
“After more than three years of being held prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the United States. 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.” White House Statement
Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran accompanied the Iranian scientist to Zurich, Switzerland, where the exchange took place. He then returned to Germany with Wang. The American prisoner released will be in Germany to be evaluated for his health, then will fly home to the US.
Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, described him as a “history nerd.” He went to Iran for a “quick” visit to Tehran to research the Qajar Dynasty- 19th-century Central Asian politics. Instead, he got a three year lesson in 21st century Iranian politics.
According to his wife, after 20 days, Wang was able to call her.
“I received a phone call and it was him crying to me that he was detained. So it was that time that he first came out of solitary confinement and give me a phone call and he literally cannot say anything. He just cried at me…He cannot even properly form a sentence. … His only crime is he’s American.” Hua Qu, Wang’s wife to Fox in 2018
Xiyue Wang went to Iran in January of 2016, the same year the nuclear deal went into effect. Four American prisoners were released at that time, as we previously reported. Interestingly, the seven prisoners swapped for the Americans chose not to return to Iran. This Iranian scientist chose to go back.
Going home pic.twitter.com/HZHPDc20aj
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 7, 2019
Iran has a nasty habit of taking Americans or dual citizens as hostages. Their hope is to use them as bargaining chips. There are several other Americans being held by Iran, and Secretary Pompeo made it a point to state that the US will not rest until all of them are home. Among them is Michael White, a US Navy veteran who went there to visit a woman and was snagged by authorities for various charges, including insulting the Ayatollah, posting a picture, and being a spy.
Wang’s son Shaofan is now 5 years old. His wife has been fighting for his release on various social media for three years. She is excited that he is coming home, and posted this statement on Twitter:
“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. We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.” Hua Qu
Princeton University can confirm the release of its graduate student, Xiyue Wang, from Iran. We are working with his family and the U.S. government to ensure his safe and speedy return to the United States. Fuller statement coming shortly. pic.twitter.com/QhUd1nY8uY
— Princeton University (@Princeton) December 7, 2019
Featured photo: US State Department