A Chinese American student whom Iran has accused of espionage was sentenced by an Iranian court to 10 years in prison, the judiciary's official news agency reported, a move likely to raise tensions with the Trump Administration ahead of a deadline to waive some Iran sanctions.

The Mizan news agency identified the American as Xiyue Wang, 37, a graduate student and researcher at Princeton University. The report said he was born in Beijing and is a dual citizen of the United States and China, but that information could not be confirmed.

Earlier in the day, judicial spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi announced that a US citizen had been sentenced for "infiltration" but did not give further details. "It was verified and determined that he was gathering [information] and was involved in infiltration," Ejehi said in Tehran.

Mizan, which is affiliated with Iran's hardline judiciary, later reported that Wang was sentenced as part of an "infiltration project" that included the gathering of "confidential articles" to send to the State Department and other Western academic institutions.


Wang is a fourth-year graduate student working on a doctorate in history, Daniel Day, Princeton's vice-president of communications, said. "He was arrested in Iran last summer, while there doing scholarly research on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty in connection with his PhD dissertation," Day said. "Since his arrest, the university has worked with Mr Wang's family, the US Government, private counsel and others to facilitate his release."

Stephen Kotkin, Wang's adviser at Princeton, said: "Xiyue Wang is a remarkable, linguistically gifted graduate student. He is innocent of all the charges. He has told me often of his exhilaration at the exquisiteness and depth of Persian civilisation."