An American grad student from Princeton imprisoned in Iran since 2016 is on his way home.
Xiyue Wang was released as part of a prisoner exchange with Iran. Massoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist detained in the US last year on accusations of violating trade sanctions, was also released.
The news was first reported by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who made the announcement on Twitter.
“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.”
The news was quickly confirmed on the American side as well by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the White House.
“The highest priority of the United States is the safety and well-being of its citizens. Freeing Americans held captive is of vital importance to my Administration, and we will continue to work hard to bring home all our citizens wrongfully held captive overseas,” President Trump said in a statement Saturday.
Wang “appears to be in good health and in very, very good humor and good spirits,” a senior administration official said.
Both the US and Iranians offered praise to Switzerland who had been acting as intermediaries during negotiations.
Wang had faced up to 10 years in prison on charges of espionage. Both Wang’s family and Princeton University strenuously denied the accusation — as did the White House.
“He had gone to Iran to study Persia literature and was held on the pretense of an espionage charge,” the senior administration official said. “He was not a spy and was wrongly detained from the start.”
Iran has a history of detaining foreign nationals on trumped-up charges for use as negotiating chips, the Associated Press reported.
Wang, who was flown to Germany to undergo a medical evaluation, has been invited to visit the White House once he returns to US soil.