By Bankole Wright
On Sunday, an Iranian judiciary official confirmed that an American student from Princeton University was arrested in Iran and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges he was spying for the United States.
The arrest and sentencing of the American, Xiyue Wang, a graduate student in history, was announced months after he had vanished in Iran, where he was doing research for a doctoral thesis. There had been rumors of his arrest, but the announcement on Sunday from Iran was the first official confirmation of his whereabouts.
A spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, said at a weekly news conference that one of “America’s infiltrators” had been prosecuted, but he did not identify Mr. Wang by name or nationality. The Mizan News Agency provided his name and his age, 37, saying he had “spider connections” with American and British intelligence agencies.
Mizan also said Mr. Wang, whom it described as fluent in Persian, had digitally archived 4,500 pages of Iranian documents and had done “super confidential research for the U.S. Department of State, Harvard Kennedy School and British Institute of Persian Studies.”
A Princeton spokesman, Daniel Day, confirmed that Mr. Wang, an American citizen of Chinese descent, was the man arrested in Iran. He also said the university had known about the arrest for months but had been trying to work quietly to have Mr. Wang freed.
In a statement issued after news of his arrest and sentence was reported, the university said Mr. Wang was a fourth-year doctoral candidate specializing in 19th- and early-20th-century Eurasian history who had been arrested last summer while doing scholarly research in Iran on the Qajar dynasty. “Since his arrest, the university has worked with Mr. Wang’s family, the U.S. government, private counsel and others to facilitate his release,” the statement said.