Saturday, December 7, 2019
A US historian has been in Iranian jail for more than three years, and an Iranian stem cell researcher is in US custody for one year. Both are now free in an exchange of prisoners, which the participating states agree on in a tense time.
In the midst of the enormous political tensions between the US and Iran, the governments of both countries have agreed to a prisoner exchange. A US citizen detained in Iran is free, said US President Donald Trump. Shortly before that, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad had told Sarif that Iranian scientist Massud Soleimani, who had been imprisoned in the US, was released for the US citizen Xiyue Wang. Tarifa thanked Twitter for mediating Switzerland. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was "pleased that Tehran was constructive in this case". He too thanked the government in Bern. Washington and Tehran have not maintained diplomatic relations since 1980. Hua Qu has been waiting for years for her husband Xiyue Wang's return from a research stay in Iran. (Photo: picture alliance / dpa) "After more than three years as a prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the US," said Trump. Peking-born historian Wang was a graduate student at Princeton University and was arrested during a research stay in Iran in August 2016. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for spying charges. Iranian professor landed in Switzerland Iranian judiciary said Wang was released "on the basis of Islamic leniency" and handed over to the Swiss authorities. The state-run Iranian news agency Irna reported that Soleimani had been released "after a year of illegal detention a few moments ago" and handed over to Iranian officials in Switzerland.Sarif shared several photos on Twitter showing him and Soleimani at the airport and on an Iranian-flagged plane , "Homeward," wrote Sarif. When the pictures were taken is unclear. The stem cell researcher Soleimani, a professor at the Tarbati Modares University in the Iranian capital, was arrested in October 2018 immediately after his arrival at the Chicago airport. The Iranian media accused him of illegally introducing growth hormones. USA calls for further release Since Trump's inauguration, relations between the US and Iran have deteriorated significantly. Among other things, the US president had discontinued the international nuclear agreement with Tehran and imposed new sanctions. Tehran responded with multiple violations of the nuclear deal. After the shooting down of a US drone by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in June, the conflict became more acute. Several foreigners are serving sentences in Iran – mostly under spy charges. Pompeo demanded on Saturday the release of "all unjustly imprisoned in Iran" US citizens. In October, Iran released two Australian travel bloggers accused of espionage. At the same time, the Iranian student Reza Dehbashi, whose extradition the US had requested, was released in Australia. The number of Iranians detained abroad is unknown.