Booker praises release of American grad student held by Iran

Booker praises release of American grad student held by Iran
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Booker hits back at Trump tweet, mocks misspelling of name MORE (D-N.J.) praised the release of an American graduate student held by Iran for three years.

"I'm elated that, after three years of painful separation and uncertainty, Princeton University student Xiyue Wang and his family will finally be reunited," Booker said in a statement. "This is the outcome that New Jerseyans and those around the globe who followed this unjust and politically motivated ordeal had hoped for. I'm grateful for the efforts of those who worked tirelessly and quietly behind the scenes to help bring Xiyue Wang home."

Wang, who attended Princeton University, was one of Booker's constituents. He was released from detention in Iran on Saturday as part of a prisoner swap. He had been detained in the notorious Evin Prison on trumped up espionage charges and was sentenced in 2017 to 10 years in prison.

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The U.S. released Iranian scientist Masoud Soleimani in exchange for Wang, though he was reportedly expected to be released from prison under a plea agreement.

Princeton also celebrated the news of Wang’s release, saying it is “overjoyed” he will be reunited with his wife and young son. 

"We are grateful to everyone, at Princeton and beyond, who has supported Xiyue and his family throughout his unjust imprisonment, and for all the efforts that have led to his release," Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement.

The Trump administration expressed optimism that Saturday’s exchange would open a door to future prisoner swaps. 

"We believe the Iranians are feeling the pressure," a senior administration official said. "We feel very good about our role in resolving the charges against Mr. Soleimani and the reciprocal humanitarian gesture by the Iranians to release Mr. Wang."

For his part, Booker, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he will continue advocating for the release of the remaining Americans imprisoned in Iran.

"While the release of Xiyue Wang is welcome news, Iran continues to unjustly detain other Americans who also deserve their freedom," he said. "I will continue to press this Administration to secure the release of Siamak Namazi, his father Baquer, Bob Levinson, Michael White, and Morad Tahbaz. The Iranian regime’s disgraceful detention of innocent Americans must end."