Vigil held at Princeton University for grad student imprisoned in Iran

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PRINCETON -

State officials, family and friends of a New Jersey man imprisoned in Iran held a vigil at Princeton University Friday to call for his release.

Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang was studying Farsi and 19th Century Iran in the country when he was arrested and convicted of spying in 2016. His family says that he is innocent.

Wang’s wife says that she had given up hope until three Americans were released from North Korea this week.

"That is encouraging and that is a huge thing for me and I hope Secretary Pompeo can do the same for Xiyue,” says wife Hua Qu.

Qu also put out a direct appeal to President Donald Trump for her husband’s return.

"My husband is an innocent man, Mr. President. He's imprisoned solely because he is American. He is being used as a hostage and pawn…in negotiating with United States,” she says.

Qu says that she speaks with her husband daily by phone. Wang is being held in Evin Prison in an underground cell. Qu says that it is overcrowded and infested with bedbugs.

Wang’s friend Dong Xiang has also spoken with him.

“In prison, Xiyue keeps exchanging ideas with his friends in order to maintain his intellectual capacity and mental health,” Xiang said at the rally.

Rep. Chris Smith says that the president’s recent removal from the Iranian nuclear deal could actually help in his release as well as five other Americans imprisoned. 

"If we use the leverage that we have, and it is considerable, we can effectuate the release of Wang and other Americans being held,” he says.

Smith, who chairs the Global Human Rights Commission, says he plans on bringing Qu before Congress to testify on her husband’s behalf. Qu says that she will do it because she knows that her husband is losing hope after two years of a 10-year sentence.

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