Tehran, December 7
An Iranian held in the US and an American held in Iran have been freed, the two sides said Saturday, in an apparent prisoner swap at a time of heightened tensions.
Tehran announced the release of Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani from the United States shortly before Washington declared American researcher Xiyue Wang was returning home.
"Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.
"Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government," which has looked after US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic ties, Zarif said.
A statement on the Iranian judiciary's Mizan Online website said Wang had been "freed on Islamic clemency" and handed over to Swiss officials in order to be returned to America.
Wang, a Chinese-born American, was serving 10 years on espionage charges in Iran. A doctoral candidate in history at Princeton University, he had been researching Iran's Qajar dynasty when he was imprisoned in August 2016.
"Our family is complete once again. Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day, and it's hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue. We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen," Wang's wife Hua said in a statement.
Iran's state news agency IRNA said Soleimani had been "freed moments ago after one year of illegal detention and was handed over to Iranian officials in Switzerland".
Soleimani, a professor and senior stem cell researcher at Tehran's Tarbiat Modares University, was arrested on arrival at Chicago airport in October 2018 for allegedly attempting to ship growth hormones, according to Iranian media.
"Going home," Zarif said in another tweet.— AFP
Xiyue Wang jailed for spying since 2016
Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-born American, was serving 10 years in Iran on espionage charges. A doctoral candidate in history at Princeton University, he had been researching Iran’s Qajar dynasty when he was imprisoned in August 2016.
Massoud Soleimani held in Chicago last yr
Professor Massoud Soleimani, a professor and senior stem cell researcher at Tehran's Tarbiat Modares University, was arrested on arrival at the Chicago airport in October 2018 for allegedly attempting to ship growth hormones.
A welcome step
Freeing Americans held captive is of vital importance to my Administration, and we will continue to work hard to bring home all our citizens wrongfully held captive overseas.— Donald Trump, US President
Glad that Prof Soleimani and Mr Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly. Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government. — Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign minister
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