Iranian scientist released in US-Iran prisoner swap arrives in Tehran

This file photo was taken in November 2019 of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, during a ceremony to start work on a second reactor following the US pullout from the Iran nuclear deal.
This file photo was taken in November 2019 of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, during a ceremony to start work on a second reactor following the US pullout from the Iran nuclear deal. © Atta Kenare, AFP

Iranian scientist Majid Taheri returned to the Islamic Republic on Monday after his release from jail in the United States last week, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

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Taheri was greeted at Iran's Imam Khomeini International Airport by deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, said ISNA, which published a picture of the pair speaking to reporters.

His release was part of a prisoner exchange deal – a rare instance of US-Iran cooperation – which saw Michael White, a US Navy veteran detained in Iran since 2018, freed last Thursday.

White’s release came two days after the US deported Sirous Asgari, an Iranian professor imprisoned in the US despite having been acquitted of stealing trade secrets.

Shortly after arriving in Tehran, Taheri thanked Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, according to state media.

"I thank the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and dear officials, including Mr. Zarif, who worked hard, and other officials who took months to help release me, as an Iranian physician accused of circumventing US sanctions on medicine," he was quoted as saying.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Tehran was ready for more prisoner exchanges with Washington. "If the possibility of exchanging prisoners exists, we have the readiness to free the rest of the individuals who are imprisoned in America and return them to the country," he said.

Macron calls for 'immediate release' of French-Iranian academic

French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah however is still behind bars in Iran, a year after her arrest on June 5, 2019.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for her “immediate release” and said her detention was “unacceptable”.

Born in Iran in 1959 but living in France since 1977, Adelkhah has maintained her innocence, and colleagues and other supporters have rubbished the charges against her. She went on a 49-day hunger strike to protest her conditions.

Adelkhah was arrested with her partner Roland Marchal, a fellow academic at the Sciences Po university in Paris specialising in Africa.

Marchal was freed and returned to France in March after French authorities released Iranian engineer Jallal Rohollahnejad, who risked extradition to the United States on accusations of violating sanctions.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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