Iranian physician arrives in Tehran after release from U.S. prison

June 8, 2020 - 10:33

TEHRAN — An Iranian physician who had been imprisoned by the United States on alleged charges of violating the country’s illegal sanctions on Iran, arrived in Tehran on Monday morning.

After 16 months of detention, Majid Taheri was released through a prisoner swap with American citizen Michael White, who was also imprisoned in Iran. 

Taheri was welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari at the Imam Khomeini International Airport, according to Mehr.

Upon arrival, he told reporters that charges against him were false and unfair. 

Taheri said he was helping Iranian researchers at the University of Tehran to develop an anti-cancer vaccine.

He appreciated the efforts of Iranian officials and the government, especially Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for securing his release.

Tehran on Thursday confirmed the prisoner swap, urging Washington to release all Iranian hostages held by the U.S. government.

“Pleased that Dr. Majid Taheri and Mr. White will soon be joining their families,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said via Twitter. “Prof. Sirous Asgari was happily reunited with his family on Weds.”

“This can happen for all prisoners,” Zarif said, adding, “No need for cherry-picking. Iranian hostages held in—and on behalf of—the US should come home.”

Meanwhile, Tehran has stressed that there have been no direct talks between Iran and U.S. governments over the swap. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Sunday that the Swiss government has facilitated the exchange.

“The swap was implemented due to humanitarian reasons. The U.S. has held a number of our citizens hostage claiming they have violated U.S. sanctions,” said Mousavi. 

Noting that the U.S. sanctions are illegal and baseless, he maintained, “During this time with the help of the Swiss government, we have tried our best to utilize all our resources.”

“The Swiss government was responsible for the negotiations and there were no direct talks between Iran and the U.S.,” he added.

The remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump thanked Iran for releasing White and called for Iran not to “wait until after U.S. Election to make the Big deal.”

Trump added, “I’m going to win. You’ll make a better deal now!”

His appeal for a new deal with Iran was met with outright rejection by Iran.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf described any settlement with the United Sates as a weak move, referring to a verse in Quran that says, “Do not be weak-hearted and do not appeal for an (unjust) settlement; you have the upper hand. God is with you and He will never reduce the reward for your deeds.”

Other senior officials, including Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani and Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaee, also dismissed Trump’s appeal for a new deal.

Trump abandoned the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, and introduced a maximum pressure policy in the hope of forcing Iran to come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal. So far, his policy has failed to reach its proclaimed goal.


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