Friday , September 25 2020

Iran frees US scholar in prisoner exchange


Iran released the Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang on Saturday as part of a prisoner swap, US officials said. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed that the US freed Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani.
Soleimani was “delivered to Iranian officials in Switzerland,” Iran’s foreign ministry said on its Telegram channel. Zarif later tweeted photos of himself with his countryman.
A senior US administration official said Wang was met in Switzerland by Brian Hook, the US special representative to Iran. Yang will undergo a medical evaluation in Germany before heading back to the US.
The Princeton University scholar may visit President Donald Trump at the White House after his return but nothing has been arranged so far, the official said.
The prisoner swap comes as diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran remain fraught. President Hassan Rouhani’s government is under increasing pressure from US sanctions that have hammered the Islamic Republic’s economy. More than 1,000 people may have been killed by government forces in Iran during a crackdown on protests in recent weeks. “Mr. Wang had been held under the pretense of espionage since August 2016,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.

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