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Prisoner Swapping Might Bring Some Warmth In Iran US Relations



Iran Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at United Nations Headquarters

In a rare moment of compassion, Iran has freed a Chinese American researcher who had been imprisoned on the charge of spying in Iran since 2016.

Xiyue Wang, a U.S. citizen, and Princeton University graduate student was conducting dissertation research in Iran when he was detained and accused by Iran of “spying under the cover of research.” The allegation has been denied by his family and the university itself.

Wang will soon be united with his family while an imprisoned Iranian will be released simultaneously by Washington, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has confirmed. The Iranian individual held in America is Professor Massoud Soleimani was working on stem cell research, hematology and regenerative medicine when he was arrested by U.S. authorities. He was charged with a violation of trade sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran.

He and his lawyers maintain his innocence, saying he seized on a former student’s plans to travel from the U.S. to Iran in September 2016 as a chance to get recombinant proteins used in his research for a fraction of the price he’d pay at home.

Wang was arrested while conducting research on the Qajar dynasty that once ruled Iran for his doctorate in the late 19th and early 20th-century Eurasian history, according to Princeton.

Many such individuals with dual citizenship continued to be held captive by Iran.

In separate instances, Iran’s has been disappointing Britain for withholding its citizens, mostly on charges of spying or espionage. Random instances of British Iranian dual nationals being picked up by Iranian government had increased since September this year.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 over charges of spying and since then, her case has seen no progress. She has been detained since September 2016 and sentenced to five year’s rigorous imprisonment for spreading malicious propaganda against the Iranian government.

The prosecutor general of Tehran had stated in October 2017 that she was being held for running  “a BBC Persian online journalism course which was aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran.”

In another incident, three more Australian citizens who also hold British passports were held by Iran, on suspected allegations of spying.

Political analysts feel that this mutual swap could be the first step to thawing the cold relationship between Iran and the United States.

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