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UW Graduate Xiyue Wang Freed By Iran After 3 Years In Prison

Patch logo Patch 12/8/2019 Nick Garber
Brian Hook et al. standing around a plane on the tarmac at an airport: In this photo provided by the U.S. State Department, U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook stands with Xiyue Wang in Zurich, Switzerland on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. © U.S. Department of State In this photo provided by the U.S. State Department, U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook stands with Xiyue Wang in Zurich, Switzerland on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.

SEATTLE, WA — A University of Washington graduate who spent three years imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges was freed Saturday as part of a prisoner exchange with the United States, the State Department announced.

Xiyue Wang, 38, a Chinese-American, got his bachelor's degree from UW's Jackson School of International Studies. In 2016, while he was a doctoral student at Princeton, Wang traveled to Iran to study Farsi and conduct research for dissertation on Eurasian history.

Wang was sentenced in 2017 to 10 years in prison for allegedly spying for the United States, a charge that Wang and U.S. officials strongly denied.

Members of the UW community advocated for Wang's release during his imprisonment. A rally on campus last year called for President Donald Trump to secure Wang's release, and the state's congressional delegation urged President Trump in August to make Wang's release a priority.

In exchange for Wang's release, the U.S. freed Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist arrested last year at a Chicago airport on charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, the New York Times reported. The exchange took place on the tarmac of a Swiss airport, where Wang was met by U.S. officials.

Wang is now undergoing a medical evaluation at an American army hospital in Germany, CNN reported.

"Our family is complete once again," Wang's wife, Hua Qu, said in a statement. "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. We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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