Enemies terrified of Iran’s scientific progress: Masoud Soleimani

December 15, 2019 - 19:41

TEHRAN – Masoud Soleimani, the Iranian scientist who was released from a U.S. jail earlier this month, said on Sunday that enemies are terrified of Iran’s scientific progress.

“The thing that upsets and terrifies the enemies is Iran’s science and it really concerns them because they cannot tolerate the country’s progress,” Soleimani said while addressing a ceremony at Tehran's Tarbiat Modares University.

“Nothing is more important than standing on our own feet and that can be reached only through science,” the scientist noted. 

Earlier in the day, Soleimani was hospitalized due to heart problems.

He was scheduled to hold a press conference to answer questions by Iranian and international media outlets, but the presser was canceled, IRNA reported.

However, he was released from the hospital later in the day.

Soleimani, a 49-year-old stem cell scientist, left Iran on sabbatical last year, but was arrested upon arrival in Chicago and transferred to prison in Atlanta, Georgia for unspecified reasons.

The United States released him in a prisoner exchange, after which Soleimani flew along with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif from Zurich to Tehran on December 7.

The prisoner exchange happened through mediation efforts by Switzerland. 

On the same day, Iran also freed an American graduate student who had been imprisoned in Tehran for more than three years on charges of being a spy.

Xiyue Wang was flown in a Swiss government airplane from Tehran to Zurich, where he was met by Brian H. Hook, the U.S. State Department’s special representative for Iran, according to two senior United States officials.

Zarif said he was happy that Soleimani and Xiyue are joining their families. 

“Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly. Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government,” Zarif tweeted on December 7.

Soleimani has said that during his detention, the U.S. jail wardens told other prisoners that he was a terrorist with a mission to carry out bombings in the United States.

“U.S. authorities in the jail had told prisoners that I was a terrorist who wanted to carry out bombings in America,” Press TV quoted Soleimani as saying upon arrival at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport.  

“They had made such false statements so that other prisoners would not come close to me and keep away from me,” he said.

Meanwhile, the United States also dropped charges against two Iranian researchers it had accused of attempting to export chemicals to Iran in violation of trade sanctions.

An Atlanta-based federal judge on Wednesday dismissed sanctions-violation cases against scientists Mahboobe Ghaedi and Maryam Jazayeri, Politico reported on Thursday.

Both women were co-defendants in the prosecution of Soleimani.

In recent days, Iran has voiced readiness for a full prisoner swap with the United States, saying that the “ball is in the U.S.’s court”.

“After getting our hostage back this week, fully ready for a comprehensive prisoner exchange,” Zarif said via Twitter last Monday.

MH/PA

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