Planet Princeton

Imprisoned Princeton University student’s wife begs Trump to help secure his release

Xiyue Wang with his family before he went to Iran. Family photo via Princeton University.

The wife of Princeton University graduate student Xiyue Wang appeared on NBC News Tuesday to plead with the Trump administration to work to secure his release.

Qu Hua said her husband has been depressed and has attempted suicide since he was imprisoned more than a year ago. He has also been sick several times.

“Only the U.S. government can sort this out, only the U.S. government can help us,” she told NBC News. “I hope President Trump can open up a dialogue with Iranian authorities to discuss a resolution of my husband’s case.”

Wang is a Chinese-born naturalized American citizen. He and his wife have a four-year-old son. “My son told his teacher that, ‘When I grow up, my daddy will come home,'” Qu told NBC.

One of Iran’s state television channels aired a video last weekend of  Wang, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for allegedly infiltrating the country and spying. Wang was arrested while he was doing doctoral research in Iran in the summer of 2016.

In the program that aired on the state television channel IRIB2, Wang is accused of scanning about 4,500 pages of digital documents, paying thousands of dollars to access archives, and seeking access to restricted areas of libraries as a spy for the U.S. government.

“I was shocked and I was extremely upset that my husband is misrepresented on Iran’s state television,” Qu told NBC News. “He went to Iran with all the required approvals. He openly and honestly disclosed his interests in looking at the historical documents.”

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 In connection with his doctoral research, he traveled to Iran to study Farsi and to examine historical documents from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.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.

“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.”

She said she hopes every month that her husband will be released, and that she won’t give up, because he is innocent.

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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