On New Year’s Eve, Xiyue Wang spent his 38th birthday in an Iranian prison.
The American citizen and doctoral student from Princeton is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage following his arrest in 2016 for allegedly stealing thousands of secret digital documents.
According to Princeton, Wang was in Iran to study Farsi and to do scholarly research.
“He has no connection to any government or intelligence agencies, and the charge that he was engaged in espionage is completely false,” the university said in a statement.
Wang’s wife Qu Hua marked her husband’s birthday by releasing a video she hopes will lead to his release.
“It’s such a tragedy for us,” said Qu. “It’s such a horrible ordeal for our family.”
Recently the American Council on Education released a letter urging President Trump to appeal to Iran to release Wang.
Human Rights Watch reported Wang was transferred to Ward 7 in Evin Prison last month and was immediately threatened by another inmate in front of a guard.
“Iranian authorities do not limit unfair trials and mistreatment in custody to their own citizens but impose them on foreign nationals as well,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, of Human Rights Watch. “To further threaten Xiyue Wang with physical harm is outright cruelty.”
Hua and the couple’s four-year-old son have not seen Wang for nearly two years. A Change.org petition signed by more than 3,000 people says Wang is being held by Iran as a “political pawn.” The petition says Wang has not been given warm clothing or even a blanket for the winter. It called on the U.S. government “to do everything in its power” to secure Wang’s release.
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