US releases Iranian doctor in prisoner swap

An Iranian-American doctor released from a US jail as part of a prisoner swap has flown back to Tehran.

Majid Taheri, an Iranian-American who had been working at a clinic in Tampa, Florida, had been detained in the United States for 16 months.

He was accused of violating US sanctions and financial reporting requirements. Upon his arrival officials and relatives greeted him at the airport.

Dr Taheri’s return came just days after Iran freed US Navy veteran Michael White, and the US deported Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari.

He was freed on Thursday as Iran released US Navy veteran Michael White, who had been detained in the Islamic republic since his arrest in July 2018.

Upon his arrival at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, Taheri was greeted by deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari.

“I hope to see the release of (other Iranians imprisoned abroad) in the near future,” Ansari was quoted as saying by a local news agency, adding his ministry would do its best to achieve this.

Ansari said the scientist was freed after months of efforts by the ministry in coordination with Switzerland, whose embassy in Tehran handles US interests.

“I thank the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and dear officials, including Mr. Zarif, who worked hard, and other officials who took months to help release me, as an Iranian physician accused of circumventing US sanctions on medicine,” he was quoted as saying.

The exchange represents a slight thaw in relations between the two foes.

US-Iran relations have become increasingly hostile since 2018, when President Donald Trump abandoned Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers and reinstated crippling economic sanctions.

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