Planet Princeton

Iran releases TV footage of jailed Princeton University graduate student

One of Iran’s state television channels aired a video this weekend of Xiyue Wang, the Princeton University graduate student who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for allegedly infiltrating the country and spying. Wang was arrested while he was doing doctoral research last year.

In the program that aired on the state television channel IRIB2, Wang is accused of trying to take about 4,500 documents from Iran. An interrogator questions why in the video. Some of the footage shows an emotional Wang.

Princeton University has said that Wang was not involved in any political activities or connected to any government agencies. He was a scholar conducting historical research. He went to Iran as a doctoral candidate in the history department, and was studying Eurasian languages and regional governance practices in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for his dissertation. In connection with his doctoral research, he traveled to Iran to study Farsi and to examine historical documents from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He described his research plans in advance to the Iranian authorities and the libraries and archives he planned to visit, and he only sought access to materials that he needed for his dissertation.

In Sunday, Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, told The Associated Press she hasn’t spoken with the U.S. State Department about the video. She hopes her husband will be freed soon.

According to the Iranian government, Wang allegedly scanned about 4,500 pages of digital documents, paid thousands of dollars to access archives, and sought access to restricted areas of libraries. The video includes close-up footage of Wang talking, clips of him in what looks like a court room,  an image of his Iranian visa, a school ID, and images of Princeton University.

The broadcast of the video comes just before the mid-December deadline for Congress to decide whether the U.S. should re-impose economic sanctions lifted under the Iran nuclear accord.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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