"Good news, an aircraft carrying Dr. Cyrous Asgari has taken off from America. Congratulations to his wife and family," Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Tuesday June 2. The plane repatriating the Iranian scientist, detained for several years in the United States on charges of theft of industrial secrets before being acquitted, took off from American territory.
Despite his acquittal last November, the Iranian scientist remained incarcerated in the United States, apparently for reasons related to immigration laws.
>> See: "United States vs Iran: a crisis that reconciles Iranian population and regime?"
Contaminated with the new coronavirus
The Iranian foreign ministry said last month that Cyrous Asgari contracted the new coronavirus during his detention.
In March, the scientist told the British daily The Guardian that the American immigration police kept him in a detention center in Louisiana without basic sanitation and refused to return to Iran despite his acquittal.
Iran and the United States, enemies for decades, still reciprocally hold several nationals of the other country and recently called for their release because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tehran calls for prisoner exchange
Iran is the most affected country in the Middle East, with more than 150,000 infections, including nearly 8,000 dead. Abroad as well as inside the country, officials and experts suspect the official figures to be largely underestimated.
The United States is the most affected country in the world, with nearly 1.8 million cases, including more than 104,000 deaths.
Several arrests or convictions of Iranians have taken place in the United States since US President Donald Trump denounced in 2018 the international Iranian nuclear agreement concluded in 2015 and reinstated heavy sanctions against Tehran.
Iran, which holds at least five Americans, recently called for a comprehensive prisoner swap with the United States, which detains fifteen Iranians according to a list compiled by AFP from official releases and press information.
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