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EghtesadOnline: Iranian stem cell scientist Masoud Soleimani was freed in a prisoner swap with the United States in return for Iran's release of a Chinese-American convict.

The exchange took place with the mediation of the Swiss government, which represents US diplomatic interests in Iran, since Washington and Tehran have no diplomatic ties.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif received the Iranian scientist in Zurich, Switzerland, on Saturday, Iran's Foreign Ministry website reported.

The 49-year-old professor and biomedical researcher at Tehran's Tarbiat Modarres University, was arrested at Chicago airport in October 2018 for allegedly attempting to export biological materials to Iran in violation of US sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, according to Financial Tribune.

He had traveled to the US at the invitation of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to lead a research program on the treatment of stroke patients.

Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-American graduate student, was arrested in Iran three years ago for spying on the country while doing doctoral research. He was later sentenced to 10 years.

"Glad that Professor Masoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly. Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government," Zarif posted on his Twitter account along with his photos with Soleimani. 

In April, Zarif had publicly expressed Tehran's preparedness for a prisoner swap with the US.

He had called on Washington to swap all Iranians jailed in the US and on extradition requests from the US, mostly for alleged violations of US export restrictions and sanctions violations, with those imprisoned in Iran.

In a statement issued by the White House, US President Donald Trump also thanked the Swiss government for its help in negotiating Wang's release.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Iran's move as "constructive" in a tweet. 

"We will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones. We thank the Swiss government for facilitating the return of Mr. Wang, and are pleased the Iranian government has been constructive in this matter," Pompeo wrote. 


Us Iran United States Xiyue Wang Prisoner Swap stem cell scientist Masoud Soleimani Chinese-American convict