US sends Iranian prof home

World | REUTERS 3 Jun 2020

An Iranian professor imprisoned in the United States after being acquitted of stealing trade secrets has left the country and is on his way home, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

"Hello friends. Good news. Dr Sirous Asgari is on a flight back to Iran. Congratulations to his wife and family," Zarif wrote on Instagram.

Zarif had urged Washington in March to release Asgari, who he said was one of several Iranian scientists taken "hostage" by the United States.

In April 2016, the materials science professor was indicted on charges of stealing trade secrets in violation of US sanctions on Iran.

A federal judge in Ohio acquitted Asgari in November and US authorities said earlier last month that the 59-year-old, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in April, was expected to be deported once given medical clearance.

Asgari might be part of a rare prisoner swap between Tehran and Washington, with navy veteran Michael White likely headed back to the US.

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