Marina Villén and Beatriz Pascual Macías
Tehran / Washington, Dec. 7 (EFE) .- Iran and the United States held an exchange of two prisoners who had been detained since 2016 and 2018 in the respective countries on Saturday, in a surprising move due to the currently high bilateral tension.
Those released are Iranian scientist Masud Soleimaní, accused last year in the United States. of trying to export biological material to Iran, and the American researcher Xiyue Wang, arrested in 2016 in the Persian country and convicted of espionage.RELATED
The first to announce the news was the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohamad Yavad Zarif, who last April already revealed that he had proposed an exchange of prisoners to Washington.
"Glad that Professor Masud Soleimaní and Mr. Xiyue Wang join their families shortly," Zarif said on Twitter, who posted a couple of photographs with the Iranian scientist on an official Islamic Republic plane with the phrase "de way home".
Shortly thereafter, US President Donald Trump congratulated himself in a statement on the release of Wang, whose wife, Hua Qu, also expressed his joy because his family "is complete again."
SWITZERLAND AS A MEDIATOR
The head of Iranian diplomacy thanked "all involved" in this process of liberation, especially the Government of Switzerland, a country where he went to pick up Soleimaní, according to the official IRNA agency.
The Swiss Embassy in Tehran represents the interests of the United States. in Iran since both countries have not maintained diplomatic relations since April 1980, when Washington decided to cut them after taking its embassy in the Iranian capital and 52 of its diplomats hostage for 444 days.
"We are grateful to our Swiss partners for their help in negotiating with Iran the release of Mr. Wang," said the US president.
Trump did not refer to Soleimaní, nor did US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who merely said that Washington feels "pleased" by Tehran's "constructive" behavior.
Wang's wife thanked "everyone who helped make this happen": "Our son Shaofan and I have waited a long time for this day and it is difficult to express in words how happy we are to meet with Xiyue," he said. .
END TO YEAR OF CAPTIVITY
Wang, of Chinese origin, was arrested in August 2016 in Iran and sentenced to ten years in jail for "collaborating with foreign governments" as, according to Tehran, he sought to infiltrate research institutions to obtain classified information from the country.
A report published at the time by the Iranian judiciary detailed that Wang digitally filed 4,500 pages of documents and was associated with a study center on Iran and the Persian Gulf of Princeton University in the United States.
As for Soleimaní, an Iranian scientist specializing in stem cell research, he was arrested at the Chicago airport last year and was in an Atlanta (Georgia) jail awaiting trial.
The American justice accused the Iranian scientist of having tried to take to Iran some chemicals destined to grow cells, an action that, according to the US Department of the Treasury, was prohibited due to Washington's sanctions on Tehran.
From Iran they denounced that the arrest of Soleimaní was a maneuver to press for Wang's release, but the Islamic Republic itself uses incarcerated foreign or Iranian citizens with dual nationality, mainly American and British, as a pressure lever against those countries.
THE IRANI PROPOSAL FOR AN EXCHANGE OF INmates
Zarif announced last April during an event in New York that his country had proposed a possible exchange of prisoners to the US six months before but that he had not yet received an answer.
"I put this offer on the table publicly now," said the minister, who declared himself prepared to make that exchange immediately and noted that both Iran and the US They believe that the charges against their citizens are "false."
American prisoners, including US Navy veteran Michael R. White, are generally accused of espionage, while the many Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. They are serving a sentence for violating that country's sanctions against Iran.
For his part, Trump insisted today that "releasing Americans who have been held captive is vitally important" to his Administration and that they will continue to work "hard to bring home all Americans who have been unjustly detained abroad."
This exchange of prisoners occurs at a time of great tension between Tehran and Washington due mainly to the sanctions imposed by the US. against Iran after unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Both countries have starred in a series of incidents in the Persian Gulf and have once again engaged in accusations on the occasion of recent protests in Iran, in which Washington has denounced the deaths of more than a thousand protesters and Tehran has blamed it for instigating the unrest. EFE
mv-bpm / mah