Iran says German freed in prisoner swap

Iran said on Monday that Ahmad Khalili, who was arrested in Germany on a US request and subject to extradition to the United States, flew home on Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had been in Germany to attend a security conference in Munich. (File/AFP)
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Updated 18 February 2020

Iran says German freed in prisoner swap

  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals over recent years, mostly on espionage charges
  • Rights activists have accused Iran of arresting a number of dual nationals to try to win concessions from other countries

DUBAI: Iran has freed a German citizen sentenced to three years in jail, the Iranian judiciary said on Tuesday, a day after Tehran said a detained Iranian accused of violating US sanctions had returned home from Germany.

“On Monday, a German citizen returned home. He was arrested while ago and was sentenced to three years in jail for taking pictures from sensitive places,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said in a televised weekly news conference. He did not give further details.

Iran said on Monday that Ahmad Khalili, who was arrested in Germany on a US request and subject to extradition to the United States, flew home on Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had been in Germany to attend a security conference in Munich.

“We insisted that first the Iranian citizen should return home...then the German citizen was allowed to leave Iran on Monday,” he said.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals over recent years, mostly on espionage charges.

Esmaili also said two French academics will appear in the court next month. France has called for the release of French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah and her French colleague Roland Marchal, who had been detained since June.

Iran has rejected France’s call as an interference at Tehran’s state matters.

“We do not recognize dual nationality. She is Iranian. We do not let other states to interfere in our judiciary matters. Their court session will be on March 3,” Esmaili said.

Adelkhah’s lawyer told Reuters last month that Iran had dropped spying charges against Adelkhah but she faced other security-related charges.

The issue has complicated ties between Tehran and Paris, both parties to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Washington exited the deal in 2018 and has reimposed sanctions that has hit Iran’s economy hard.

Rights activists have accused Iran of arresting a number of dual nationals to try to win concessions from other countries — a charge that the Islamic Republic has regularly dismissed.

A Chinese-American detained in Iran in 2016 and later charged with spying was freed in December and an imprisoned Iranian was released by Washington in return.


Iran: nuclear deal with world powers worth preserving

Updated 10 min 23 sec ago

Iran: nuclear deal with world powers worth preserving

  • Iran has been steadily breaking restrictions outlined in the 2018 nuclear deal on the amount of uranium it can enrich
  • ‘There is still a broad agreement among the international community that the JCPOA should be preserved’
BERLIN: The head of Iran’s nuclear agency said Monday that the landmark 2015 deal between Tehran and world powers on his country’s atomic program is struggling since the unilateral US withdrawal, but is still worth preserving.
Ali Akbar Salehi told delegates at a conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna that the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, has been “caught in a quasi-stalemate situation” since President Donald Trump pulled the US out in 2018.
The deal promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. The remaining world powers in the deal – France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia – have been struggling to offset re-imposed American sanctions.
Iran has been steadily breaking restrictions outlined in the deal on the amount of uranium it can enrich, the purity it can enrich it to, and other limitations in order to pressure those countries to do more.
Salehi, speaking in a video address, said it’s of the “utmost importance” that those countries find a solution to resolve “the difficulties caused by the illegal withdrawal of the US from the deal.”
“There is still a broad agreement among the international community that the JCPOA should be preserved,” he said.
Speaking after Salehi, US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette made no reference to the deal, saying only that the “United States remains committed to addressing the threats posed by the nuclear programs of both North Korea and Iran.”
“On top of its horrific record as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran has a lamentable history of providing only grudging, dilatory, and incomplete cooperation, if at all, with the IAEA. Iran must do more, much more, to ensure both timely and complete compliance with the safeguards obligations,” he said.
The ultimate goal of the JCPOA is to prevent Iran from being able to build a nuclear bomb — something Iran insists it does not want to do.
Though it has broken the pact’s limitations, it still has far less enriched uranium and lower-purity uranium than it had before signing the deal.
It has also continued to allow IAEA inspectors full access to its nuclear facilities, which the world powers still in the deal maintain is reason enough to try and keep it in place.
Iran recently granted the IAEA access to two sites dating from before the deal, which Director General Rafael Grossi said he hoped “will reinforce cooperation and enhance mutual trust.”