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Iranian and American freed in apparent prisoner swap

AFP
Tehran
An Iranian held in the US and an American held in Iran have been freed, the two sides said on Saturday, in an apparent prisoner swap at a time of heightened tensions.
Tehran announced the release of Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani from the United States shortly before Washington declared American researcher Xiyue Wang was returning home.
“Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.
“Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government,” which has looked after US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic ties, Zarif said.
In a statement issued in Washington, US President Donald Trump said that “after more than three years of being held prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the US”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was “pleased that Tehran has been constructive in this matter” while also thanking Switzerland for its role.
A statement on the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan Online website said Wang had been “freed on Islamic clemency” and handed over to Swiss officials in order to be returned to America.
Wang, a Chinese-born American, was serving 10 years on espionage charges in Iran.
A doctoral candidate in history at Princeton University, he had been researching Iran’s Qajar dynasty when he was imprisoned in August 2016.
Iran’s state news agency IRNA said Soleimani had been “freed moments ago after one year of illegal detention and was handed over to Iranian officials in Switzerland”.

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