A file photo of Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari who has contracted COVID-19 while being incarcerated in the US
An Iranian lawmaker says there are no more obstacles in the way of securing the release of Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari from a US jail, and that he will definitely return home as soon as he recovers from a coronavirus infection he contracted in detention.
Seyed Hossein Naghavi-Hosseini, spokesman for the Iranian Parliamentís Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, made the remarks following a meeting of the parliamentary body on the case attended by representatives from several ministries.
Citing representatives of foreign, defense and intelligence ministries, the senior lawmaker said "Asgariís return home has been finalized, and that the obstacles to his release have been removed."
Asgari, a professor of material sciences at Sharif University of Technology, was recently placed in an isolation cell inside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail in Louisiana after he contracted the new coronavirus (COVID-19) due to unsanitary detention conditions and overcrowding at the facility.
Naghavi-Hosseini quoted sources at the Foreign Ministry as saying that Asgari will be flown back home immediately as soon as he tests negative for coronavirus.
Asgari, a father of three, was arrested in the United States in mid-2017 on charges of fraud and trade secret theft relating to his work with a university in Ohio. The findings of his project, though, had already been published and made available online.
After a long trial, a federal judge in Ohio acquitted the scientist in November 2019 of the charge of stealing trade secrets in violation of US sanctions on Iran.
But because the US had revoked Asgariís visa, he was taken into ICE custody and has remained in detention. The Iranian professor has argued that US officials themselves had seized his passport and were, therefore, responsible for his prolonged presence in America.
‘Possible deportation in prisoner swapí
On Tuesday, Reuters carried a report citing American and Iranian officials as saying that the US was expected to deport Asgari in a possible prisoner swap once he received medical clearance to leave.
The scientist is awaiting a health clearance to travel, said Abolfazl Mehrabadi, the deputy director of Tehranís interests section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.
"We are working and cooperating with the immigration office to deport him as soon as possible to Iran," he added.
Additionally, an ICE spokesman, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the agency was expecting to carry out Asgariís removal from the US once he was medically cleared to travel.
Connecting flights that normally carry deportees to Iran have been canceled and the ICE is waiting for service to resume, he noted.
The spokesman further confirmed that Asgari had tested positive for COVID-19 and was currently in quarantine, receiving care.
SOURCE: PRESS TV