Amid increasing clashes between the United States and the Iranian regime, Iran has sentenced an American student to a long prison sentence. Tehran officials announced the move this weekend, almost exactly two years after the introduction of the Iran nuclear deal.
Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-American graduate student at Princeton University, has been sentenced to 10 years in an Iranian prison after being “convicted” of “infiltrating” the country, Iranian authorities announced this weekend.
Without providing proof of espionage, Iran labeled Wang a “spy” and an “infiltrating American agent.” He was imprisoned in August 2016 after trying to depart Iran for a European nation.
Princeton is doing what it can to secure his release.
“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,” a statement from Princeton University read. Princeton said in the statement that Wang was in Tehran to do research on the 1794-1925 Qajar dynasty.
Wang’s academic advisor, Stephen Kotkin, told the AP that he is a “remarkable, linguistically gifted graduate student,” adding that Wang is “innocent of all the charges.” Kotkin said Wang often told him of his “exhilaration at the exquisiteness and depth of Persian civilization.”
The U.S. State Department has called on the Iranian regime to release “all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Iran.” Several American citizens remain hostages in Iran.
Republicans and Democrats alike have become increasingly frustrated with the Iran nuclear deal, which was one of former President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy endeavors. The deal was supposed to change Iran’s behavior, but instead, it has emboldened the radical Islamic rulers there.
The nuclear deal provided Iran with a cash windfall to secure its regional interests and continue to finance terrorist operations. The regime in Tehran also continues to directly threaten American soldiers and allies operating in the Middle East.
In June, Congress overwhelmingly passed sanctions on Iran (the Senate vote was 98-2), hoping to move on from the outcomes imposed by Obama’s Iran deal.
The U.S. has in the past secured the release of Americans imprisoned in Iran, but at a great cost. In early 2016, The Obama administration shelled out a $1.7 billion dollar ransom payment for the release of four Americans imprisoned in Iran.