Iran Frees American Student Xiyue Wang After 3 Years in Detention

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Meanwhile, Western detainees from the USA and elsewhere remain held by Tehran.

Both the U.S. and Iranians offered praise to Switzerland who had been acting as intermediaries during negotiations. (Courtesy Wang Family photo via Princeton University/Handout via Reuters/File Photo) Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hand with Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani prior to leaving Zurich for Tehran on December 7, 2019.

In a tweet, Zarif said: "Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly".

Wang was arrested in Tehran back in August of 2016 for alleged espionage.

"We thank the Swiss government for facilitating the return of Mr. Wang, and are pleased the Iranian government has been constructive in this manner", he wrote.

The Swiss Embassy in Tehran looks out for America's interests in the country as the US Embassy there has been closed since the 1979 student takeover and 444-day hostage crisis.

Wang, who has a wife and a young child in the U.S., was flown in a Swiss government airplane from Tehran to Zurich Saturday to meet with Brian H. Hook, the U.S. State Department's special representative from Iran, U.S. officials told The New York Times.

A USA official told the Associated Press that the swap took place in Zurich, and that Wang is headed to Landstuhl, Germany, where he will be examined by doctors before returning to the US.

Wang, who was flown to Germany to undergo a medical evaluation, has been invited to visit the White House once he returns to USA soil. At that time, BBC Persian allegedly had an US source stating that the story could not be confirmed.

The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic ties since 1980.

After more than three years of being held prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the United States.


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In April 2017, Wang was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail at the notorious Evin Prison where he spent 18 days in solitary confinement.

In this May 9, 2018 file photo, Hua Qu, the wife of detained Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, poses for a photograph with a portrait of her family in Princeton, N.J.

"He is simply a bookish historian who travelled to Iran for research in 2016 and became swept up in the escalating tensions between the United States and Iran", wrote Teresa Davis, a fellow at Emory University, in a Washington Post opinion essay.

Wang's wife, Hua Qu, expressed gratitude for his return and said, "Our family is complete once again". He added, "See, we can make a deal together".

In February, Princeton graduate students held a "Day of Action" demanding that the Iranian regime release Wang. Iran claimed that Princeton "sent" Wang to "infiltrate" the country in connection with American intelligence agencies. That court typically handles espionage cases and others involving smuggling, blasphemy and attempts to overthrow its Islamic government.

Iran has a history of detaining foreign nationals on trumped-up charges for use as negotiating chips, the Associated Press reported.

The student was exchanged for an Iranian scientist, who was in custody for violating USA sanctions.

Tensions have been high between Iran and the U.S. since Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018.

US officials told the Times that the deal was not part of larger talks between the two governments.

The U.S. then deported Iranian Negar Ghodskani in September, who had been brought from Australia and later sentenced to time served for conspiracy to illegally export restricted technology to Iran.

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