Prisoner swap: Iran releases American graduate student held since 2016

Prisoner swap: Iran releases American graduate student held since 2016
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif , Zarif, left, shakes hands with Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani prior to leaving Zurich, Switzerland, for Tehran, on Saturday. (Javad Zarif twitter account via AP/Javad Zarif twitter account via AP)

Iranian officials Saturday freed an American graduate student who had been imprisoned since 2016 on suspicion of being a spy, The New York Times reported. The student, Xiyue Wang, was released as part of a prisoner exchange, in which the United States released an Iranian biologist who was arrested last year in Chicago, the newspaper reported.

Wang, 38, who was born in China and attended Princeton University, was arrested in August 2016 on espionage charges while he was doing research for his doctoral dissertation, The Washington Post reported. In 2017 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of spying and was imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison, the newspaper reported.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was “pleased that Tehran has been constructive in this matter” and thanked the Swiss government for helping make Wang’s return possible, according to the Post. He was met in Switzerland by Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, the newspaper reported.

He later arrived at a U.S. Army hospital in Germany and is being evaluated at the Army-operated Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, CNN reported.

“The United States will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones,” Pompeo said in a statement.

The Iranian scientist, Masoud Soleiman, was convicted on charges of violating American trade sanctions against Iran, the Times reported. Soleiman’s prison term was expected to end next month under a plea agreement, according to the newspaper.

The White House confirmed the prisoner swap early Saturday with a statement from President Donald Trump, the Post reported. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also confirmed the deal on Twitter