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Iran Releases American Student Held Since 2016 In Prisoner Swap

Courtesy Wang Family photo via Princeton University/Handout

Amber Athey White House Correspondent
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Iran released American graduate student Xiyue Wang on Saturday after holding him for three years under suspicions that he was a spy.

Wang, a naturalized American citizen who was a graduate student at Princeton University, was arrested in August 2016 while conducting research in Iran. He was charged with espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The White House released a statement from President Donald Trump early Saturday morning confirming that Wang would be returning home:

After more than three years of being held prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the United States. A Princeton University graduate student, Mr. Wang had been held under the pretense of espionage since August 2016. We thank our Swiss partners for their assistance in negotiating Mr. Wang’s release with Iran. 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.

In exchange for Wang’s safe return, the U.S. released Iranian scientist Masoud Soleimani, who was caught at a Chicago airport last year and charged with violating trade sanctions against Iran. U.S. officials said the deal was more than fair, noting that Soleimani likely would have been released from prison next month anyway.

“No sanctions relief. No pallets of cash. No change in policy,” a State Department official told the Daily Caller.

Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, met Wang after he was transferred from Tehran to Zurich on a Swiss plane. The Trump administration has had a successful record bringing home American hostages, including Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey and Otto Warmbier from North Korea. (RELATED: Here Are The 17 Prisoners Trump Has Freed Since He Took Office)

Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, released a statement about her husband’s release.

“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.”