Iran Calls for Full Prisoner Exchange with US
Mohammad Javad Zarif (Carlos Barria/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran Calls for Full Prisoner Exchange with US

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran is ready for a full prisoner exchange with the United States. “We are prepared to exchange all of them and all those who have been kept in jail. I repeat, we can exchange all prisoners. Period,” he told the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations during a Monday videoconference. Iran is holding Americans, some with dual Iranian citizenship, in its prisons, often accusing them of espionage, while Iranians jailed in the US are generally charged with breaking sanctions re-imposed on the Islamic Republic after Washington withdrew from a 2015 multilateral agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. As the United Nations General Assembly kicks off its latest session this week, the two sides are increasing their public rhetoric. At least two US-Iran prisoner exchanges have taken place during the past few years. At the end of 2018, the Islamic Republic freed Xiyue Wang, held for three years on spying charges, in return for the US freeing Massoud Soleimani, a hematologist accused of conspiring to smuggle bio-tech material to Iran. This summer, Tehran freed Navy veteran Michael White after two years in prison for having insulted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in exchange for Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari and Iranian-American physician Majid Taheri, both having been held in the US for violations of tech-export regulations. Iran denies having held Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent said to have been on a CIA mission to Iran when he disappeared in 2007. He is now believed to have died in captivity.

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