On Saturday, the United States and Iran conducted a prisoner swap which will allow American student Xiyue Wang to come home after more than 3 years of being held captive.
His release on Saturday, came after the Trump administration successfully negotiated a swap for Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani, who was facing a federal trial in Georgia.
Wang, a 38-year-old PhD candidate at Princeton University, will finally be reunited with his wife and child in time for the holidays.
Statement of Hua Qu, wife of Xiyue Wang:
Our family is complete once again. Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue. We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.
— Free Xiyue Wang (@FreeXiyueWang) December 7, 2019
From the Associated Press:
Iran and the U.S. conducted a prisoner exchange Saturday that saw a detained Princeton scholar released for an Iranian scientist held by America, marking a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Tehran and Washington after months of tensions.
While the exchange represents a rare win for both countries, it comes as Iran still faces crushing American sanctions and the aftermath of nationwide protests that reportedly saw over 200 people killed. Meanwhile, Western detainees from the U.S. and elsewhere remain held by Tehran. They are likely to be used as bargaining chips for future negotiations amid Iran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
Wang’s release had been rumored over recent days, with one lawyer involved in his case tweeting out a Bible verse about an angel freeing the apostle Peter just hours before Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif broke the news in his own tweet.
In a statement released by the White House, President Trump thanked those involved with Wang’s release, including Swiss partners who hosted the swap.
“After more than three years of being held prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the United States,” Trump said in the statement. “A Princeton University graduate student, Mr. Wang had been held under the pretense of espionage since August 2016. We thank our Swiss partners for their assistance in negotiating Mr. Wang’s release with Iran. The highest priority of the United States is the safety and well-being of its citizens.”
“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,” he added.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Ponmpeo similarly said the administration would not stop in their efforts to bring more Americans home.
“Another American is coming home,” he tweeted. “Xiyue Wang, who has been held on false charges in Iran for over three years, has been released and is on his way back to the United States. Mr. Wang will soon be reunited with his wife and son, who have missed him dearly.”
Adding: “We will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones. We thank the Swiss government for facilitating the return of Mr. Wang, and are pleased the Iranian government has been constructive in this matter.”
We will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones. We thank the Swiss government for facilitating the return of Mr. Wang, and are pleased the Iranian government has been constructive in this matter. (2/2)
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 7, 2019