An Iranian professor jailed in the United States after being acquitted of stealing trade secrets has left the country and is on his way back to Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an Instagram article on Tuesday.
“Hello friends. Good news. Dr. Sirous Asgari is in the air on a flight back to Iran. Congratulations to his wife and family,” wrote Zarif, who urged Washington in March to release Asgari, who , he said, was one of many Iranian scientists held hostage by the United States.
In April 2016, the materials science professor was charged when U.S. federal prosecutors accused him of stealing trade secrets in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
An Ohio federal judge acquitted Asgari in November and US officials said earlier last month that the 59-year-old Asgari, who tested positive for the new coronavirus in April, was to be deported by the United States once he has received medical clearance to leave.
Asgari could be part of a rare prisoner swap between the enemies of Tehran and Washington, whose relations have become increasingly hostile since 2018, when US President Donald Trump left the Iranian nuclear deal in 2015 and took reimposed sanctions against the country that beat its economy.
If an exchange takes place, Michael White, a U.S. Navy veteran detained in Iran since 2018, is a candidate for exchange. He was released from prison in mid-March on medical leave but remains in Iran.
Last year, Iran released US citizen Xiyue Wang, who was detained for three years for espionage, and the United States released Iranian Massoud Soleimani, accused of violating US sanctions against Iran.
(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)