News Topic

Academic Freedom, Advocacy, Historians at Risk


Middle East

On Saturday December 7, Iranian authorities released a historian, Xiyue Wang, who had been held for three years in Evin prison in Tehran on suspicion of espionage.  A graduate student at Princeton University, Wang was in Iran for dissertation research on the foreign relations of Qajar-era (1789-1925) Iran, when he was arrested in 2016.  He, his family, his university, and the State Department deny that he engaged in espionage.  In a prisoner swap arranged by the State Department and Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Mr. Wang was exchanged for an Iranian scientist, Masoud Soleimani, who was in U.S. custody after conviction on charges of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.

The AHA protested Mr. Wang’s imprisonment in a letter to Iranian authorities in 2018.  The delay between Wang’s initial arrest and the letter is due to our decision to defer to Princeton’s judgement on what would best serve Mr. Wang’s interests.  The AHA does what it can to defend the interests of historians around the country and around the world, and is pleased to congratulate Mr. Wang on his freedom.