Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic is “fully ready” to exchange more prisoners with the US after the latter freed Iranian stem cell scientist Masoud Soleimani, who arrived in Tehran after over one year of imprisonment in the United States.
“After getting our hostage back this week, fully ready for comprehensive prisoner exchange,” Zarif said in a Monday tweet in clear reference to Soleimani’s exchange with Xiyue Wang — a Chinese-born US citizen who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage in Iran in 2017.
After declaring Iran’s readiness to exchange more prisoners with the US, Zarif noted that the issue depended on the will of the American side, adding, “The ball is in the US’ court.”
Back in October last year, Soleimani, 49, left Iran on sabbatical last year but was arrested upon arrival in Chicago and transferred to prison in Atlanta, Georgia for unspecified reasons.
When he left Tehran last fall, Soleimani, a professor and biomedical researcher at Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) in Tehran, planned to complete his research on treating stroke patients as a visiting scholar at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Prosecutors in Atlanta had accused him and two of his former students of conspiring and attempting to export vials of human growth hormone from the US to Iran without authorization, in violation of US sanctions.