Iran sentenced a Princeton graduate student to 10 years in prison on espionage charges, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Mizan News Agency identified the student as 36-year-old Xiyue Wang, a fourth-year doctoral candidate specializing in Eurasian history. Iranian authorities arrested the U.S.-Chinese national last August while he was conducting research for his doctoral thesis. Sunday’s announcement was the first official confirmation of Wang’s arrest since he disappeared last year.
“It has been confirmed and verified that this individual has come to Iran for infiltration,” said Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, spokesman for Iran’s judiciary.
The Iranian agency also claimed that Wang had made digital copies of 4,500 pages of Iranian documents to send to the U.S. Department of State, British Institute of Persian Studies, and Harvard Kennedy School.
“We were very distressed to learn that charges were brought against him in connection with his scholarly work, and to learn of the subsequent conviction and sentence,” said Princeton spokesman Daniel Day. “His family and the university are distressed at his continued imprisonment and are hopeful that he will be released after his case is heard by the appellate authorities in Tehran.”
Day also said that Princeton University had known about the arrest for quite some time and has been working with “the U.S. government, private counsel, and others to facilitate his release,” reports the New York Times.
An official from the State Department acknowledged reports of Wang’s detention, according to the WSJ, and slammed the Iranian regime for detaining Americans on bogus spying charges. Iran has arrested numerous journalists, businesspeople, and academics — typically with Iranian-American citizenship — visiting the country on similar charges.
The move to sentence Wang 10 years imprisonment will likely increase tensions between the U.S. and Iran ahead of Monday’s deadline for the Trump administration to waive nuclear-related sanctions.