ISTANBUL — A Chinese American student Iran has accused of espionage was sentenced by an Iranian court to 10 years in prison, the judiciary’s official news agency reported Sunday, a move likely to raise tensions with the Trump administration ahead of a deadline to waive some Iran sanctions.
The Mizan news agency named the American as 37-year-old Xiyue Wang, a graduate student and researcher at Princeton University. The report said he was born in Beijing and is a dual Chinese American citizen, but that information could not be confirmed.
Earlier in the day, judicial spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi announced that a U.S. citizen had been sentenced for “infiltration” but did not release further details.
“It was verified and determined that he was gathering (information) and was involved in infiltration,” Ejehi said at a news conference in Tehran, the Associated Press reported.
Mizan, which is affiliated with Iran’s hard-line judiciary, later reported that Wang had been sentenced as part of an “infiltration project” that included the gathering of “confidential articles” to send back to the State Department and other Western academic institutions.
Wang is a fourth-year graduate student working on a doctorate in history, Daniel Day, Princeton’s vice president of communications, said Sunday.
“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,” Day said in a statement. “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.”
The report from Mizan, which included a photo from the Princeton University website, also published a quote from Wang in which he had praised the British Institute of Persian Studies for facilitating access to Iran’s National Archives and other libraries. The quote was used as evidence of his spying activities, the report said, adding: “Wang admits his mission in Iran.”
“I have been having trouble accessing Tehran’s archives and libraries,” Wang…