Princeton University graduate student Xiyue Wang has been held for almost 16 months inside an Iranian prison where he has become increasingly hopeless to the point of being suicidal, according to his wife Qu Hua.
Wang was reportedly researching Iran’s Qajar dynasty for his Ph.D. when he was arrested in August 2016 under the suspicion of spying for the United States.
In a recent interview with NBC News, Qu lamented how her husband has become stressed and had multiple diseases since his arrest. She revealed that Wang has developed depression and even attempted suicide while in detention.
Qu is now seeking the help of President Trump to get her husband released as she believes that her husband and father of their 4-year-old child, “was criminalized because of his citizenship.”
“Only the U.S. government can sort this out, only the U.S. government can help us,” Qu was quoted as saying. “I hope President Trump can open up a dialogue with Iranian authorities to discuss a resolution of my husband’s case.”
The Iranian government has accused the 36-year-old of using his research to cover for his alleged espionage. He was alleged to be “directly guided by America” when he entered confidential areas of a library in Iran.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 28, 2017
Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison back in July 2017 after for allegedly recording around 4,500 pages of digital documents. He was also accused of paying thousands of dollars to access archives he needed and sought to access to confidential areas of Tehran libraries.
According to the Washington Post, the United States Department of State has denied the allegations via a statement released following his sentencing in July, while calling for the immediate release of all US citizens in jail in Iran.
“The Iranian regime continues to detain US citizens and other foreigners on fabricated national-security related changes,” the statement read.
Vouching for the legitimacy of his research, Princeton University posted its own statement belying earlier claims made by the Iranian government that Wang was “sent by Princeton to infiltrate Iran and that he had connections to intelligence agencies.”
“These charges are completely false. Princeton does not determine where students will conduct their research; like all of our scholars, Mr. Wang made his own judgments about what research he needed to do and where he needed to do it for his dissertation. He was not connected to any government or intelligence agencies.”
The American Council on Education and 31 other higher education and research associations issued a statement urging a safe return home for Wang and over 1,000 researchers from 25 countries have signed a petition also calling for his immediate release.
The two countries have not spoken since President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rouhani talked over the phone back in 2013.
Advocates for Americans imprisoned in Iran have earlier expressed that Trump’s hardline stance toward Iran would make the captives’ release more difficult. Wang, a naturalized U.S. citizen since 2009, is one of seven U.S. citizens or permanent residents currently detained by Iran, according to the Reuters.