Princeton issues new statement of support for Xiyue Wang

Nov. 27, 2017 1:21 p.m.

Princeton University issued the following statement Nov. 27 in response to an Iranian television broadcast regarding Xiyue Wang, 36, a graduate student in the Department of History who is imprisoned in Iran.

The Iranian State TV broadcast about Princeton University graduate student Xiyue Wang is filled with false and misleading statements about Mr. Wang and about Princeton.

Mr. Wang was in Iran solely for the purpose of studying Farsi and doing scholarly research in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation. His field of study is late 19th and early 20th century Eurasian history. He was studying old historical records (mostly over one hundred years old) that pertained to the administrative and cultural history of the Qajar dynasty, which ruled from 1785 to 1925.

His dissertation topic was not suggested to him by Princeton, the U.S. government, or anyone else. He selected his own topic and areas of research.  He has no connection to any government or intelligence agencies, and the charge that he was engaged in espionage is completely false.  He studied the archival materials solely for his own research, and to our knowledge did not share them with anyone at Princeton or elsewhere.

Before traveling to Iran, Mr. Wang explained his research plan to the Iranian Interest Section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., (which issued his visa) and to the libraries in Iran that he planned to visit.  The Iranian Interest Section assisted him in gaining access to Iran’s National Archives. He was not involved in any political activities or social activism while he was in Iran; he was simply a scholar trying to gain access to historical records he needed for his dissertation.

As a private university, Princeton provided financial support for Mr. Wang’s research from funds that are entirely under its control and with no involvement of any kind by the U.S. government or any outside agencies. Some of the funding came from the University’s department of history and some from an interdisciplinary center whose mission is to serve as a non-political and non-governmental educational resource that supports scholarship on Iran and the Persian Gulf, including research into the history, literature, art and culture of the region, from ancient Iran to today.

Since Mr. Wang was detained, the University has been doing everything it can, day after day, to bring him home to his wife and young son, and to enable him to resume his scholarly work.

Previous statements from Princeton and others regarding Mr. Wang, including answers to frequently asked questions about the case, are also available.