Xiyue Wang – Princeton Sacrificed Its Student to Protect Iranian Ties

Faye Higbee

Xiyue Wang was a former doctoral candidate at Princeton in 2016. He was methodically encouraged to go to Iran during the JCPOA in order to do research for his studies. He was arrested in August of 2016, accused of spying, and “left to rot” in the notorious Evin prison until President Trump arranged for his release in a prisoner swap in 2019. Wang is suing the Ivy League school because they did nothing to help his release, and actively tried to protect itelf.

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Princeton: Protecting itself instead of its student

“Everything Princeton did and abstained from doing was centered around absolving its institutional responsibility, protecting its institutional reputation, and maintaining its political relations with Iran,” Wang says in the lawsuit, which has not been previously reported.

Wang’s lawsuit threatens to reveal Princeton’s efforts to forge ties with Iran and the school’s internal deliberations after his arrest. The historian identifies researchers and scholars at Princeton he says are sympathetic to the Iranian regime who he claims stymied efforts to free him from prison. Wang notes that Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian diplomat, serves as a scholar at Princeton. Mousavian was ambassador to Germany when four Iranian dissidents were assassinated on German soil. He attended the funeral of Qassem Soleimani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader killed by American forces last year.

Wang also questions advice he received before and during his trip from a Princeton research director whose father is a former Iranian diplomat.

Washington Free Beacon

Wang was bombarded with messages from the school like, “It’s a good time to go [to Iran]—looks like they are in a good mood over there. Take advantage of it!” and “It’s an exciting and dynamic time to be there,” and it would be a “pioneering visit for Princeton.” Some of Princeton’s staff have ties to the Iranian regime, and they wanted to protect those ties at all costs.

It was quite the “pioneering visit” for Xiyue Wang as he languished in Evin Prison and was tortured.

Wang learned as soon as he arrived in Tehran that Princeton hadn’t properly prepared his way so that he could access the materials he needed for his studies. When Iranian authorities took his passport and laptop, and placed him under surveillance, he contacted the school. They told him to hold tight and not tell anyone except a very small handful of school staff who already knew. They advised Wang’s wife that he should not seek refuge in the Swiss Embassy. Consequently he was eventually arrested and thrown in prison for 1,216 days. Several of the school staff have ties to Iran and chose not to intervene on his behalf.

“Instead of taking action to assist and accelerate Mr. Wang’s release, Princeton chose instead to protect their own reputation over Mr. Wang’s health and well-being. Princeton did nothing but try to suppress news about the case.”

Xiyue Wang Lawsuit

One of those staff members who failed to do anything was Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who left Iran in 2009. He was residing at Princeton with the title “Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at the Program on Science and Global Security.” The Washington Examiner called him “Princeton’s Iranian Agent of Influence” in 2012. Apparently he didn’t have enough influence to protect a student from the brutal Iranian regime. So why is Princeton protecting its Iranian ties?


Featured screenshot of Xiyue Wang being greeted by US official upon his release from Iran (JPost)

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