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Spokesman Says Iran Still Prepared For Prisoner Exchange With US, Europe

Combo image of four Iranian dual nationals who were detained in Iran, (R to L) British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iranian-American Karen Vafadari, Iranian- American Siamak Namazi, and British-Iranian Kamal Foroughi, who was later released.

The Spokesman of Iran's Foreign Ministry on Monday said Iran is still prepared for prisoner exchange with the United States and European countries.

"We had announced our readiness both officially and through messages [relayed by third parties] and even proposed to exchange certain prisoners some of which took place," Seyed Abbas Mousavi told reporters on Monday.

He added that nearly 20 Iranians are in detention in the United States "on false charges of trying to circumvent sanctions" and said Iran is prepared to work for resolving the situation.

In October 2019 Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said Iran had made an offer of prisoner exchange with the United States through the Swiss embassy in Tehran and submitted a list of Iranian prisoners in the United States for the exchange. The Swiss embassy represents U.S. interests in the Islamic Republic. Zarif, however, said the talks had reached a dead-end.

Commenting on the circumstances of Dr. Sirous Asgari, an Iranian scientist in prison in the United States, Mousavi said he has reportedly contracted the coronavirus in prison. "He will be tested again. Everything is ready for his return to the country and if his test result is negative he will come back to Iran soon".

Asgari was not found guilty in a U.S. sanctions trial ​but is held on U.S. federal charges of stealing trade secrets since November.

Speaking to reporters on Monday Ali Rabiei, the Spokesman of the Rouhani administration, alleged that Iranian prisoners are held in "shameful" unsanitary conditions in U.S. prisons. Rabiei also said Iran that is expecting the return of an Iranian prisoner, presumably Sirous Agari, from the United States soon.

Iran is holding several dual-nationals who have been arrested and convicted in closed-door, unfair trials. Western officials regard these arrests as an attempt to gain bargaining chips by Iran.

Iranian officials have repeatedly demanded the release of Iranian prisoners held in the United States and European countries on charges of breaching the U.S. sanctions.

"The U.S. even refuses medical furlough, amid COVID-19, for innocent men jailed in horrific facilities. Release our men." Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said in a tweet on March 27.