Despite Iran’s boastful rejection of the twelve conditions announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018 before the imposition of sanctions, the Iranians have returned to try to respond to these demands after they have been exhausted by the US sanctions imposed since August 6, 2018.
The release of American prisoners in Tehran was one of those twelve conditions, but after Iran refused to release five Americans, Washington arrested 18 Iranian citizens close to the regime on various charges, which forced the mullah regime to respond. Although it did not achieve the goal of lifting the sanctions, its goal was instead to free its men in a prisoner exchange.
It seems that the US release of Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari comes within this context. Tehran announced on Tuesday, June 2, that Asgari, who was detained in prison in the United States on accusations of stealing trade secrets, took off in a plane on his way back to Iran, which Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif conformed in a post on Instagram.
Asgari was deemed innocent by the US judiciary in November 2019, yet he was imprisoned for reasons related to violating the local immigration laws in the United States.
Iran had announced in May that Asgari had been infected with the corona virus in US prison, and Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that Asgari’s file had been permanently closed in the United States.
The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since 1980 since Tehran held the US embassy staff hostage, and this file represents a renewed item of tension between them.
The outbreak of the corona virus has accelerated the exchanges, as Tehran demanded the release of all prisoners because of the pandemic.
In December 2019, Iran released US citizen Xiyue Wang, who had been imprisoned for three years. In return, the United States released Iranian citizen Masoud Soleimani, a researcher specializing in stem cell research who had been detained in the US since 2018.
The Swiss embassy in Tehran plays a pivotal role in exchanges due to the interruption of relations between the two enemy countries, as the Swiss represent American interests in Iran and play the role of mediator.
Iran often detains foreigners with dual nationality, as it does not recognize this duplication and uses them to blackmail their other countries, especially with European countries and the United States.