Xiyue Wang is a Ph.D. student at Princeton University and an American citizen, who was wrongfully imprisoned by the Iranian government from August 2016 to December 2019.
In August 2016, while conducting research for his dissertation, Xiyue was unjustly detained, secretly tried for espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison. For over three years, Xiyue was held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, separated from his wife and young son in the United States. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Iran had “no legal basis for the arrest and detention” of Xiyue and called on Iran to “release [him] immediately.”
Xiyue is a scholar, not a spy. His arrest was a violation of academic freedom and human rights. Xiyue’s activities in Iran were purely scholarly in nature; his source documents were over a hundred years old and were neither confidential nor classified. What’s more, Xiyue’s work had explicit approval from the Iranian government. Prior to his departure, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved his research plan and wrote him a letter of introduction for his archival work.
Xiyue was arrested, secretly tried on false espionage charges and sentenced after the trial. While at the notorious Evin Prison, he was subjected to various forms of torture and held hostage for political reasons that had nothing to do with him or his research.
For more details on Xiyue’s circumstances, see Princeton University’s FAQ.