Accused of stealing trade secrets, Iranian scientist returns home after deported from US

Above, Iranian professor Sirous Asgari being reunited with his family in Tehran on Wednesday, June 13, 2020. (IRNA)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Accused of stealing trade secrets, Iranian scientist returns home after deported from US

  • Tehran and Washington have denied reports that his release was part of a prisoner swap

DUBAI/TEHRAN: An Iranian scientist imprisoned in the US of stealing trade secrets and acquitted in a federal trade secrets case returned to his homeland on Wednesday morning, a semiofficial Iranian news agency reported.

The report by the ISNA news agency included an image of Sirous Asgari, wearing a face mask and being welcomed by relatives.

A professor at Iran’s Sharif University of Technology, Asgari was indicted in April 2016, accused by US federal prosecutors of trying to steal secret research from Case Western Reserve University. The Cleveland school had been working on a project for the US Navy Office of Naval Research to create and produce anti-corrosive stainless steel.

Asgari was ultimately acquitted in November 2019 after US District Judge James Gwin tossed out the case by the prosecutors.

Tehran and Washington have denied reports that his release was part of a prisoner swap.

US authorities said in May that Asgari, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in April, would be deported once he received medical clearance.

Photos published by Iranian state media showed Asgari being reunited with his family in Tehran on Wednesday.

Last year, Iran freed US citizen Xiyue Wang, who had been held for three years on spying charges, and the US released Iranian Massoud Soleimani, who faced charges of violating US sanctions on Iran.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has led Iran, one of the worst-hit countries in the Middle East, to temporarily release some prisoners in a bid to curb the spread of infections.

In mid-March, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tehran was considering freeing some US citizens as Michael White, a US navy veteran who has been detained in Iran since 2018, was released from prison on medical furlough. He remains in Iran.

It is not clear exactly how many American-Iranians are being held in Iran, but they include father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi.

Michael White, a US navy veteran who was detained in Iran in 2018, was released from prison in mid-March on furlough but remains in Iran.

Several dozen Iranians are being held in US prisons, many of them for breaking sanctions.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif first said in an Instagram post that Asgari was on his way back to Iran. The ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, rejected speculation of a prisoner swap.

However, Zarif said in December that Tehran was ready for a full prisoner exchange with the US tweeting: “The ball is in the US’ court.”

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy Homeland Security secretary, earlier told The Associated Press that the DHS had started to try to deport Asgari last December, following his acquittal. However, he said, Iran refused to recognize him as legitimately Iranian and provide him with a valid passport until late February.

His return was then postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on international flights. Additionally, Asgari contracted the virus but was later reported to have fully recovered.

Iranian officials had associated Asgari’s release with US prisoners held in Iran potentially being freed, something Cuccinelli strongly disputed.


Algeria says France to return remains of 24 resistance fighters

Updated 02 July 2020

Algeria says France to return remains of 24 resistance fighters

  • Tebboune said some of the remains belonged to “leaders” of the resistance movement who were killed in the 19th century

ALGIERS: Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Thursday said France will return the remains of 24 resistance fighters who were killed during its colonization of the North African country.
“Within a few hours Algerian military planes will fly in from France and land at the Houari Boumediene international airport with the remains of 24 (members) of the popular resistance,” Tebboune said during a military ceremony.
Tebboune said some of the remains belonged to “leaders” of the resistance movement who were killed in the 19th century fighting against France which occupied and ruled Algeria for 132 years.
In his speech, Tebboune said these resistance fighters “had been deprived of their natural and human right to be buried for more than 170 years.”
One of the leaders whose remains are to be returned is Sheikh Bouzian, who was captured in 1849 by the French, shot and decapitated.
The remains of two other key figures of the resistance — Bou Amar Ben Kedida and Si Mokhtar Ben Kouider Al Titraoui — are also among those expected back in Algeria.
The country won independence from France in 1962 after eight years of bitter war that left some 1.5 million Algerians dead.
Emmanuel Macron, the first French president to be born after the war, made his first official visit to Algeria in December 2017, announcing that he came as a “friend” despite France’s historically prickly ties with its former colony.
At the time he told news website Tout sur l’Algerie that he was “ready” to see his country hand back the skulls of Algerian resistance fighters.
Algerian and French academics have long campaigned for the return of 37 skulls held at the Musee de l’Homme in Paris.
In December 2019, Macron said that “colonialism was a grave mistake” and called for turning the page on the past.
During his presidential election campaign Macron had created a storm by calling France’s colonization of Algeria a “crime against humanity.”