Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Iranian 'spy' scientist flies home after release from US prison, raising hopes of prisoner swap

Iranian 'spy' scientist flies home after release from US prison, raising hopes of prisoner swapThe families of British dual nationals imprisoned by Iran today criticised the Foreign Office for “complete inaction” in trying to secure their release, as an Iranian scientist previously jailed by the US was allowed to fly home. A plane carrying Sirous Asgari took off early this morning and was on its way back to Tehran to bring him home, Iran’s foreign minister announced, raising hopes of a potential prisoner swap for Western dual nationals in Iran. Mr Asgari was accused by a US court in 2016 of stealing trade secrets while on an academic visit to Ohio, where he visited a university working on projects for the US Navy. However, the 59-year-old scientist from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, was acquitted in November when an American judge dismissed the case against him. Several British, US and other dual nationals remain imprisoned or on temporary release in Iran, typically on controversial charges of espionage. They include British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, jailed in 2016, and retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, 66, who has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since August 2017. Both the US Department of Homeland Security and the Iranian Foreign Ministry today denied reports that Mr Asgari’s release was part of a prisoner swap, but such arrangements have been made in the past, despite the breakdown in diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran.




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