Human RightsIranMiddle EastNorth AmericaQasem Suleimani

Iran freed US navy veteran White on humanitarian grounds: Judiciary spokesman

A senior Iranian judicial official says US navy veteran Michael White was freed and sent home “on humanitarian grounds” while taking the country’s “general interests” into consideration, emphasizing that any decision-making about releasing prisoners lies with Iran’s Judiciary.

Iran’s Judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaeili made the remarks at a presser on Tuesday in response to a question about the role of Iran’s judicial branch in White’s case.

“Releasing this US national, who was imprisoned in the Islamic Republic of Iran, was a humanitarian measure taken within the framework of judicial regulations, while taking into consideration the country’s general interests, and with the intervention of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC),” he said.

Esmaeili described Iran’s Judiciary as the ultimate authority to make decision on issues related to prisons and prisoners.

“Of course, the Judiciary takes into account the national interests, as well as the expert views of the SNSC and the government’s technical committees,” he said.

White was freed last Thursday as part of a prisoner swap in which the United States released Majid Taheri, an Iranian scientist who had been imprisoned in the US on false charges, after spending over a year in jail.

Iranian judicial authorities have insisted that White was released from prison after he managed to get the consent of a private plaintiff.

The American national, who had been in jail because of security-related charges over his role in the spread of HIV/AIDS disease in Iran, was pardoned for his other crimes based on Islamic clemency.

Taheri’s release came a day after Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari, a professor of material sciences at Iran’s Sharif University of Technology, returned home after spending about three years in detention in the United States.

Esmaeili further explained, “Our cooperation would help our compatriots get out of US prisons; therefore, the Judiciary agreed to release the American citizen in coordination” with the three branches of the government and the SNSC.

CIA agent sentenced to death

Elsewhere in his remarks, Esmaili said an Iranian citizen had been sentenced to death for providing information to US and Israeli spy services on the whereabouts of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

“Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd had been connected to both Mossad and the CIA and provided the spy services with intelligence in security fields specially [Iran’s] Armed Forces, including the Quds Force, in exchange for US dollars,” he explained.

The Judiciary spokesman said that Mousavi-Majd had given “information about the whereabouts of martyr Soleimani to our enemies.”

“He has been sentenced to death by Iran’s Revolution Court and the Supreme Court has upheld his death sentence. He will be executed soon,” he said.

On January 3, the US assassinated General Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and a group of their companions in Baghdad. The operation was conducted with the authorization of US President Donald Trump.

The US Department of Defense took responsibility for the assassination.

Six arrests made over Ukrainian jet crash

In reference to the Ukrainian plane crash in January, Esmaeili said that Iran had detained about six people in connection with the incident, three of who had been released on bail. 

He said the Judiciary itself and the Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces, in particular, were in charge of following up on the plane crash case.

So far about 70 families of the victims had filed complaints over the case, he added.

All 176 people on the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight died in the crash just after take-off from Tehran on a flight to Kiev on January 8.

Iranian authorities acknowledged the plane had been downed due to human error at a time when Iran’s air defenses were on high alert due to increased hostile American aerial activity in the aftermath of General Soleimani’s assassination.

Back to top button