An Iranian court has sentenced a Princeton University graduate to 10 years in jail after being accused of “spying under the cover of research,” Iran’s judiciary spokesman said on Sunday.
Princeton University identified the man as 37-year-old Xiyue Wang, a Beijing-born graduate student in history who was arrested in Iran last summer as he was doing scholarly research “in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation,” a university statement read.
Mizan, the official news site of the Iranian judiciary, accused Wang of “spying under the cover of research” on Sunday, according to Reuters. Mizan claims Princeton’s Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, which Wang was active at, has links to Western intelligence agencies and Israel. The report also accused Wang of copying 4,500 documents. “The American spy arrested in Iran was also at the center and his mission was to collect confidential information and documents,” Mizan said, Time reported.
“This person, who was gathering information and was directly guided by America, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the sentence can be appealed,” Reuters reported the judiciary’s spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, as saying.
The U.S. State Department accused Iran of fabricating national security-related charges to detain Americans and other foreigners.
“We call for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Iran so they can return to their families,” a State Department official said. “All U.S. citizens, especially dual nationals, considering travel to Iran should carefully read our latest Travel Warning.”
Wang was also active at Princeton’s Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, which Mizan said has links to Western intelligence agencies and Israel.
“The American spy arrested in Iran was also at the center and his mission was to collect confidential information and documents,” Mizan said, adding that he had copied 4,500 documents.
Wang was arrested in July 2016 as he was trying to leave Iran “after he became nervous about his situation”, Mizan said.
He is a doctoral candidate at Princeton, specializing in late 19th and early 20th century Eurasian history and was in Iran to research the late Qajar dynasty, the school said.