A Chinese-American student from Princeton University has been arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison by an Iranian court on charges of espionage, according to multiple reports.
Princeton identified the man as Xiyue Wang, a fourth year graduate student of history at the university.
The Iranian court convicted him of being an infiltrating American agent and said he was gathering “confidential articles” to send to the State Department and Western academic institutions, according to the Washington Post.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi did not identify Wang by name or nationality but said one of “America’s infiltrators” had been prosecuted. Mizan Online, a news agency affiliated with the Iranian judiciary, later identified 37-year-old Wang.
Reports said Wang was researching in Iran for his doctoral thesis on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty and had been missing for some months. The announcement of the arrest Sunday was the first official confirmation by Iran, although he is believed to have been arrested last August. The New York Times quoted a report by Mizan Online which said Wang pursued espionage “through the cover of being a researcher.”
Mizan Online claimed Wang had digitally archived 4,500 pages of top secret Iranian documents and conducted confidential research for the U.S. Department of State, Harvard’s Kennedy School, British Institute of Persian Studies, and Princeton’s Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies. He was also accused of having connections with American and British intelligence agencies. The allegations were based on an anonymous “informed source,” Mizan Online said.
According to CNN, Wang was raised in China and earned a bachelor’s degree in South Asian studies from the University of Washington. He also studied Russian and Eurasian studies at Harvard University, according to a biography of Wang from Princeton in Asia program, where he did a fellowship from 2008 to 2009.
“What he does know is that his dream is to walk the ancient Silk Road from Xi’an to Rome one day,” the biography read. It also revealed that he loved learning languages.
After reports of his sentence, Princeton in a statement said it already knew of Wang’s arrest, adding: “Since his arrest, the university has worked with Mr. Wang’s family, the U.S. government, private counsel and others to…