Washington’s Democratic members of Congress are urging President Donald Trump and his administration to prioritize the release of a University of Washington graduate who has been imprisoned in Iran for three years.
Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University graduate student, was studying Persian history when he was arrested in August 2016 and, after a closed trial, sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage.
Washington’s two U.S. senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and seven U.S. representatives, Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Pramila Jayapal, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, Kim Schrier and Adam Smith, wrote to Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week to plead Wang’s case.
“Mr. Wang’s home country, the United States, has the obligation to use every legal and diplomatic tool available to bring him home,” the delegation wrote. “We urge you to immediately resume direct and consistent diplomatic dialogue and take action to bring Mr. Wang home to his wife and six-year-old child.”
Jayapal’s office, which organized the letter, said it did not hear back from Washington’s three Republican members of Congress, as it sought signatories.
“August can be a tough time to get offices to respond in a timely manner,” Bryan Doyle, a Jayapal spokesman, said. “We look forward to collaborating with the full delegation to secure his release.”
Wang was born in Beijing but moved to the United States after high school and is a naturalized American citizen. His wife, Hua Qu, and their 6-year-old son live in New Jersey.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asked Iran to release Wang last year, finding “multiple violations” of his right to a fair trial and “no legal basis” for his arrest or imprisonment.
Wang was researching historical documents in Iran’s national archives, mostly 19th and early 20th-century newspaper clippings, when he was arrested and sent to Evin Prison in Tehran.
Since then, his health has deteriorated, the letter says, pointing to skin rashes, arthritis and migraines, stemming from his imprisonment.