“The US regime must compensate for the damage caused as a result of three years of detention of an Iranian academician and scientist without reason,” Ali Baqeri Kani said Wednesday.
He made the remarks in a ceremony to welcome Sirous Asgari, a professor of material sciences at Iran’s Sharif University of Technology, who arrived back in the country earlier on Wednesday after nearly three years of detention in the US.
Baqeri said that the Iranian scientist was detained for the “crime” of obtaining knowledge.
Asgari, 59, arrived in the US in 2017 with valid passports and visas, but upon arrival, he discovered he was being prosecuted by the US government for alleged violations of sanctions law.
He was arrested in the United States on charges of fraud and theft of information relating to his work with a university in Ohio. The findings of his project, though, had already been published and made available online.
After a long trial, a federal judge in Ohio acquitted the scientist in November 2019 of the charge of stealing information in violation of the US sanctions on Iran. But because the US had revoked his visa, he was taken back into custody, and his request to be sent back home was denied.
Asgari told British newspaper The Guardian in March that although he was exonerated in a US sanctions trial he remained jailed by immigration authorities at a Louisiana detention center without basic sanitation and refusing to let him return to Iran.
He also contracted COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the deadly coronavirus, while he was in detention.
His release was made possible thanks to diplomatic follow-ups by Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Asgari was on a flight back home.
“Good news, a plane carrying Dr. Sirous Asgari has taken off from America. Congratulations to his wife and family,” Zarif said in an Instagram post.