Updated: May 13, 2020
We welcome the news that on December 6, 2019, XiYue Wang, a 37-year-old US citizen of Chinese descent who has been imprisoned in Iran since August 2016, was exchanged for Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist arrested at a Chicago airport last year and convicted on charges of violating US trade sanctions. Wang had been sentenced to 10 years in prison while researching Iran’s Qajar dynasty for his Princeton University PhD. Wang was accused of “archiving thousands of Iranian documents and having connections to American intelligence agencies.”
Hua Qu, Xiyue Wang’s wife, released a statement saying “our family is complete once again.”
“Our son, Shaofan, and I have waited three long years for this day, and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue,” she said. “We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.”
Wang’s release has recently been a subject of rumor, with one lawyer involved in the case tweeting a biblical verse about an angel freeing the apostle Peter just hours before Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif broke the news in his own tweet.
“Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly,” Zarif wrote. “Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government.”
Endangered Scholars Worldwide welcomes this news with great relief. ESW is deeply concerned about the recent arbitrary detention of foreign and dual nationals in response to their exercise of the rights to academic freedom, free expression, and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both to which Iran is a party. We urge the officials of the Iranian government to end the tactic of taking dual-citizen scholars and students hostage for political gains and to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights.