Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei has expressed Tehran’s preparedness for further prisoner exchanges with the United States, following the swap of Iranian scientist Masoud Soleimani with a US-Chinese national kept in Iran.
“We are happy that the United States made the right decision in this case to release an innocent Iranian and we also commend the Swiss government for its goodwill,” Rabiei told a press conference in Tehran on Monday.
“As we said before, we are ready to secure the release of all Iranians who are being illegally held in US prisons,” he noted, adding that Iran is prepared for more prisoner exchanges with Washington.
However, he stressed that the prisoner swap is not associated with any negotiation between Tehran and Washington.
Rabiei noted that the US can prepare the grounds right now for a meeting with Iran within the framework of the P5+1 group of countries by lifting its cruel sanctions.
Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammd Javad Zarif said the Islamic Republic was fully ready for “comprehensive prisoner exchange with the US.
“After getting our hostage back this week, fully ready for comprehensive prisoner exchange,” Zarif said in a Monday tweet in clear reference to Soleimani’s exchange with Xiyue Wang — a Chinese-born US citizen who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage in Iran in 2017.
After declaring Iran’s readiness to exchange more prisoners with the US, Zarif noted that the issue depended on the will of the American side, adding, “The ball is in the US’ court.”
Back in October last year, Soleimani, 49, left Iran on sabbatical last year but was arrested upon arrival in Chicago and transferred to prison in Atlanta, Georgia for unspecified reasons.
When he left Tehran last fall, Soleimani, a professor and biomedical researcher at Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) in Tehran, planned to complete his research on treating stroke patients as a visiting scholar at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Prosecutors in Atlanta had accused him and two of his former students of conspiring and attempting to export vials of human growth hormone from the US to Iran without authorization, in violation of US sanctions.