Iran releases American student in prisoner swap

Posted at 8:02 AM, Dec 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-07 08:02:59-05

(CNN) -- An American graduate student, who had been held for three years in Iran on suspicion of being a spy, has been freed in a prisoner swap between the two countries.

President Donald Trump confirmed Xiyue Wang's release Saturday, thanking the Swiss government for their assistance in negotiating with Iran.

"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," Trump said in a statement.

Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University PhD student, was conducting research in Tehran when he was arrested there on espionage charges in August 2016. Wang was sent to Iran's notorious Evin Prison and sentenced to 10 years.

In exchange for Wang's release, the US freed Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani.

Soleimani, an Iranian stem cell scientist, was arrested by US law enforcement upon landing in Chicago in fall 2018, according to Iran's state-run Press TV.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced early Saturday that the two academics would be "joining their families shortly."

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