He Was Getting His PhD. Now He's Wasting Away in Iran

Wife Hua Qu calls on Trump to help secure the release of Princeton student Xiyue Wang
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2017 4:10 PM CST
Wife: Princeton Student Tried Suicide in Iran Prison
In this undated photo made available by the family of Xiyue Wang, via Princeton University, Wang, a Chinese-American Princeton graduate student, poses for a photo with his wife, Hua Qu, and their son.   (Princeton University via AP)

He was a Princeton University student researching Iran's Qajar dynasty for his PhD. Now, he's "extremely stressed, he has depression and he attempted to commit suicide, and he had multiple diseases," says his wife. Hua Qu spoke to NBC News about the plight of her husband, Xiyue Wang, who was in July sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran after being convicted of "spying under the cover of research." The 36-year-old Chinese-born naturalized American citizen is being kept in Tehran's Evin Prison, and Qu says more than a year had passed without her seeing him. That changed, sort of, Sunday, when Iranian state TV aired footage of Wang, spliced with images of the CIA seal and Princeton's campus, all set to what the Washington Post calls "ominous" music.

The segment accused Wang of trying to take around 4,500 documents from the country. "My husband is completely innocent," says his wife. "He is just a scholar, just a student, just a history nut." Princeton echoes that: "He was not involved in any political activities or social activism while he was in Iran; he was simply a scholar trying to gain access to historical records he needed for his dissertation," says an official. NBC notes Qu and the school have tried for months to secure his release in private. Now, she's calling for President Trump's assistance: "Only the US government can sort this out, only the US government can help us." The AP adds Congress must decide by mid-December whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran after Trump wouldn't recertify its compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal. Qu sees the video's timing as suspect. (More Iran stories.)

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