President Eisgruber ’83 said in a statement July 17 that the University has been “working on a daily basis” to try to secure the release of a graduate student arrested in Iran last August and sentenced to 10 years in prison on espionage charges. The “unjust detention” of Xiyue Wang, a fourth-year doctoral student in history, “has threatened his health, pained his family, and distressed all who learned of his plight,” Eisgruber said in a letter to faculty, students, and staff. He said Wang was in Iran for scholarly research and the study of Farsi, and said the University hopes “the appellate authorities will look mercifully on him when they review his case this summer.”
Full text of Eisgruber’s letter appears below:
Almost a year ago, Iranian authorities arrested one of our graduate students, Xiyue Wang, and charged him with espionage even though he was in Iran solely for the purpose of doing scholarly research and studying Farsi. For the past year, the University has been working on a daily basis to try to secure his release and to support him and his family in this exceedingly difficult time. I am grateful to the people on campus and in our alumni community, and to experts from the private sector and in government, who have assisted our efforts to secure Xiyue Wang’s release from the unjust detention that has threatened his health, pained his family, and distressed all who learned of his plight.
Until this weekend, the University and his family kept the matter confidential on the recommendation of multiple advisers inside and outside of government who counseled us that publicity might be harmful to our student’s interests.
As you may have seen, yesterday the Iranian judiciary publicized his arrest and sentencing, and we posted the following statement on the University’s homepage:
Xiyue Wang is a fourth-year doctoral candidate (graduate student) in the Department of History at Princeton University. His field is late 19th and early 20th century Eurasian history. He was arrested in Iran last summer, while there doing scholarly research on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation. Since his arrest, the University has worked with Mr. Wang's family, the U.S. government, private counsel and others to facilitate his release.
We were very distressed by the charges brought against him in connection with his scholarly activities, and by his subsequent conviction and sentence. His family and the University are distressed at his continued imprisonment and are hopeful that he will be released after his case is heard by the appellate authorities in Tehran. In the interim, the University will continue to do everything it can to be supportive of Mr. Wang and his family.
Xiyue Wang’s well-being remains of paramount concern. We will continue our support for him and his family as well as our efforts to secure his release. We hope the appellate authorities will look mercifully on him when they review his case this summer, and that they will allow this genuine scholar, devoted husband, and caring father to return home to our University and to the wife and young child who miss him dearly.