The wife of Xiyue Wang, an American serving 10 years on espionage charges in Iran, called Wednesday for President Donald Trump to step up efforts to free him.
Chinese-born Wang, a doctoral candidate in history at Princeton University, was researching Iran’s Qajar dynasty when he was imprisoned in August 2016.
“I implore Iran, the US, my own country China and other members of the international community to come together and find a way to secure the release of this innocent man,” Wang’s wife Hua Qu told a news conference in Washington marking the third anniversary of his arrest.
“This case will not be automatically resolved,” she said. “They need to come to the negotiating table, to speak to each other, to engage in a dialogue.”
She cited the recent example of US rapper A$AP Rocky, whose detention in Sweden after a public brawl sparked the ire of Trump, who dispatched his envoy for hostage affairs for the trial.
“President Trump offered his intervention in the superstar A$AP Rocky’s case,” and he “quickly got released,” Qu said.
“I believe the ordeal of my husband and other unjust detention cases deserve the same level of attention.”
Qu said Iran had fabricated spying allegations against her husband and was using his research as a “pretext” to pressure the US.
The US and Iran have not had diplomatic ties since 1980, and while there was an improvement in relations under Barack Obama, they have worsened under Trump.
The president withdrew the US from a 2015 deal with Iran aimed at curbing its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, imposing punishing economic restrictions on Tehran.
Iran responded 12 months later by suspending some of its commitments under the pact and has seized multiple ships in the Gulf this year.
Tehran shot down an American drone in June, with Trump saying he called off retaliatory air strikes at the last minute.
Washington says it has since downed one, possibly, two of Iran’s unmanned aircraft, which the Islamic republic has denied.
Qu said Trump’s Iran posture had not helped her husband, who has been “criminalized for his American citizenship.”
While thanking the US for its support, she noted that no progress had been made in three years and that her requests for high-level talks remained unanswered.
“I desperately need them to do more,” Qu said.