World American student freed in prisoner swap after three years in Iran jail

13:45  07 december  2019
13:45  07 december  2019 Source:   nbcnews.com

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TEHRAN — Iran freed four Americans of Iranian descent from prison on Saturday, including a Marine veteran and a reporter from The Washington Post, in a delicately negotiated swap with the United States, which released seven Iranians who had been held on sanctions violations.

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An American graduate student who was held in an Iranian prison for more than three years was finally headed home Saturday after a prisoner swap between the two countries.

a man standing on a rock next to a body of water: Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang who is serving a 10 year prison sentence in Iran.© Provided by NBC News Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang who is serving a 10 year prison sentence in Iran.

Xiyue Wang, 38, was released in Switzerland in exchange for Iranian citizen Masoud Soleimani, who was being held in an Atlanta jail over accusations he violated U.S. sanctions.

"We thank our Swiss partners for their assistance in negotiating Mr. Wang’s release with Iran," said President Donald Trump in a statement confirming the news.

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WASHINGTON — Iran on Saturday freed an American graduate student who had been imprisoned in Tehran for more than three years on suspicion of being a spy, in an exchange of prisoners at a moment of high tensions with Washington.

American prisoners set free in Iran . Freed American pastor's wife: It's a great, joyful day. (CNN) Three Americans freed in a prisoner swap with Iran are one step closer to reuniting with their University of Virginia student Otto Frederick Warmbier was detained by North Korea after being

"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."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posted on Twitter early Saturday ahead of the swap and again after it was confirmed.

Wang is a Chinese-born naturalized American citizen and a fourth-year doctoral student of history at Princeton University.

He was arrested in August 2016 while carrying out research on Iran’s Qajar dynasty for his Ph.D., according to the university, his wife and the U.S. government.

He was convicted of two counts of espionage in April 2017 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. He had been held in Evin Prison, the Tehran facility that houses most of the country's political prisoners.

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The first picture has emerged of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian since his release from jail in Iran under a prisoner swap as a landmark nuclear

Meanwhile a fifth American - student Matthew Trevithick - was also freed , but this was unrelated to the prisoner swap , which saw seven Iranian prisoners released or pardoned by the United In April last year he was sentenced to six and a half years in jail after being found guilty at trial, SI Live reports.

His wife, Qu Hua, had worked with Princeton trying to win his release to no avail. She told NBC News in November 2017 that Wang was struggling with depression in prison.

He was also missing out on watching their son grow up, she said, having last seen the boy when he was only 2 years old.

"My son told his teacher that, 'When I grow up, my daddy will come home,'" Qu said.

The U.S. had repeatedly called for his release.

Iran released video in November 2017 of Wang allegedly trying to smuggle documents. Then-State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert explicitly denied Wang was working on behalf of any U.S. government agency.

Qu later said she believed Iran knew her husband was a legitimate scholar and was targeted because of his nationality.

"He's innocent and he is just a student," she said, adding his arrest was a "sacrifice of the political situation."

Wang was among at least four other Americans being held by Iran, including Iranian-American father and son Siamak and Baquer Namazi, navy veteran Michael White and former FBI agent Robert Levinson.

Iran will bypass U.S. sanctions or overcome them through talks -Rouhani

  Iran will bypass U.S. sanctions or overcome them through talks -Rouhani Iran will overcome U.S. sanctions by either bypassing them or through negotiations, and it will not cross its red lines in any talks with arch-adversary Washington, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday. © Reuters/Brendan McDermid FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York Tensions have soared between Tehran and Washington since last year, when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran that have crippled its oil-based economy.

Iran ordered the release of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three others on Saturday Tehran ordered the release of California-born Rezaian, who was jailed last year on espionage charges, along with three other dual Iranian - American Hours after Iran announced the prisoner swap deal

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British Iranian mother jailed in Iran three years ago on espionage charges, could be released as part of a prisoner exchange, Iran 's Foreign Minister said Wednesday.

Wang's freedom came in exchange for Soleimani, a medical research scientist who was arrested in October 2018. The U.S. accused Soleimani of violating sanctions against Iran by attempting to export biological materials in the form of human growth hormone without authorization.

The swap comes amid growing tensions between Iran and the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf. The Pentagon said on Thursday that the U.S. was formulating plans to potentially deploy more U.S. troops to the Middle East in response to a growing threat from Tehran.

Crushing sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump last year, following the unilateral withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, has left Iran with widespread economic discontent.

More recently, demonstrations have erupted across the country in response to a 50 percent hike in gas prices. U.S. officials, along with human rights groups, said as many as 1,000 Iranians have been killed and thousands more imprisoned since the protests began on Nov. 15.

Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, called the casualty numbers "purely speculative and highly inaccurate," while adding an investigation into the "disturbances" and "those affected, whether injured or killed" was ongoing.

Trump weighed in on the protests Tuesday, saying in a tweet that "America supports the brave people of Iran who are protesting for their freedom."

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