Iran is ready for a full prisoner swap with the US, amid the country’s fear for the health and safety of Iranians in US jails during the Pandemic, a local news outlet reported.
“We are ready to exchange Iranian and American prisoners and we are ready to discuss this issue without with the US without any preconditions, “ Ali Rabiei, Iran’s government spokesperson said quoted by the Khabar online, an Iranian media agency.
Rabiei said that the US yet to respond to Iran’s proposal.
“We hope that as the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease threatens the lives of Iranian citizens in the US prisons, the US government eventually will prefer lives to politics… We are worried about the safety and health of Iranians in jail. . . We hold America responsible for Iranians’ safety amid the new Coronavirus outbreak,” the Iranian official said.
Rabiei added that it seems that the US has more readiness to bring the situation to an end.
In a rare act of cooperation between two longtime rivals, the US and Iran swapped prisoners in 2019 — American graduate student Xiyue Wang, detained for three years on spying charges, and imprisoned Iranian stem-cell researcher Massoud Soleimani, accused of sanction violations, AlJazeera reported.
According to the report, the exchange in December last year was facilitated by the Swiss government.
“There is no need for a third country to mediate between Iran and America for the prisoner exchange,” Rabiei has told Khabar Online.
Michael White, a US Navy veteran who has been detained in Iran since 2018, is reportedly a likely candidate to be swapped.
He was detained in Iran for allegedly insulting the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and posting private information online but he was released from prison in mid-March on medical furlough but remains in Iran.
Iran is believed to be holding at least four Americans.
Iran says U.S. authorities are holding some 20 Iranian nationals in jail.
It comes as, so far, 1,309,698 people in the United States have been infected with the COVID-19 with 78,799 deaths, while Iran witnessed 107,603 positive cases with 6,640 fatalities.
BRIEF HISTORY: SINCE 2002, PRESS RESTRICTIONS WERE GRADUALLY RELAXED AND PRIVATE MEDIA DIVERSIFIED. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND THE PRESS IS PROMOTED IN 2004.
SINCE THEN MORE THAN 30 AFGHANISTAN BASED TELEVISION CHANNELS BOTH TERRESTRIAL AND SATELLITE AND AROUND 100 RADIO FM STATIONS STARTED OPERATION IN THE COUNTRY.
FOREIGN RADIO STATIONS, SUCH AS VOICE OF AMERICA AND BBC WORLD SERVICE, ALSO BROADCAST INTO THE COUNTRY.