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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

WATCH: Wife begs Iran to release her jailed husband

It has been more than two years since Qu Hua saw her husband Wang Xiyue.

The Princeton doctoral student was in Iran studying century-old archives when he was arrested in August 2016. The US citizen is now serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted on two counts of espionage.

"Iran took him and used his as a political pawn to negotiate with the rest of the countries, including the US," Ms Qu said from New York. "I think that is wrong and my husband is completely innocent."

Ms Qu was in New York last week to drum up support for her husband, meeting US and international officials. "I’ve been through a lot of political turbulence the past two years," she said. "All I can speak now, I feel this administration really takes the hostage issue as priority."

She says she is encouraged by the administration's recent interest in her husband. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O'Brien "all mentioned my husband’s name," she said.

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Her hope is that involving senior officials will pressure Iran into releasing Mr Wang. "I can only see that my husband can be released on humanitarian grounds," she said. "That’s the only hope that he has but it has to be done through discreet diplomacy."

Qu is now allowed daily phone calls with her husband, who is being held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. The facility’s nickname of "Evin University" – after the number of intellectuals, political opponents, regime critics and foreign detainees held there – masks the brutal conditions inside. She says his spirits remain strong, but he longs for home and his young son.

Her final plea was to the Iranian government. "Please, please let him come home," she said. "Please let my son have his dad."