Xiyue Wang, a historian who was a doctorate student at Princeton, is suing the school, alleging that he was left by officials to “rot” in a torture prison in Iran based on bogus charges of espionage. Wang claims that Princeton wanted him to travel to Iran to study the nuclear deal structured during the Obama administration in early 2016.
Iranian officials arrested Wang in August 2016 on charges that he was spying on the U.S. government. He was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in Iran’s Evin Prison, where political prisoners are housed. He was incarcerated there until December 2019, when he was freed as part of a prisoner exchange with the U.S. government.
Wang filed his lawsuit against Princeton last month, claiming that the school tried to prevent his wife from publicizing his political imprisonment in Iran to protect its political connections inside Iran and its international reputation.
Wang claims that Princeton and its Iran Center did the bidding of Iranian activists and academics before and after his imprisonment. He also says that the university pushed him not to seek refuge at the Swiss embassy in Tehran when he was in fear of being arrested there.
The lawsuit could reveal Princeton academics and officials sympathetic to the Iranian government and hindered his efforts to be released from custody. The case was named Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a Princeton academic who acted previously as a diplomat for the Iranian government as someone who acted against Wang’s interests. Mousavian was Iran’s ambassador to Germany when four dissidents from Iran were assassinated there.
Wang’s case also says that he received harmful advice from a Princeton research director who is the son of a former diplomat serving the Iranian regime. Wang says that his advisors ignored the propensity of the Iranian government to arrest Americans on bogus charges.
Wang alleges that soon after he arrived in Iran, he realized that his advisors had not made necessary preparations to access research materials. His complaint states that he did not receive even the most basic logistical support, which led to his arrest, imprisonment, torture, and abuse.
When Iranian police seized Wang’s passport and laptop, he says that Princeton advisors told him to “sit tight and say nothing” to anyone outside of their small group at the university.
Wang works for Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) as a national security advisor.