Spokesman: No direct talks between Iran, US on prisoners swap

FNA – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said that the Swiss government has played a mediatory role between Tehran and Washington to facilitate the swap of prisoners without any direct talks.

“These swaps were humanitarian. A number of our nationals have been taken hostage for baseless and illegal reasons under the pretext that they have bypassed and violated the US sanctions,” Mousavi said on Sunday.

He noted that the Swiss government had taken the responsibility for talks on prisoners swap between Tehran and Washington, and stressed, “No direct negotiations have been held between Iran and the US and the consultations and talks have been conducted through the Swiss government and led to the release (of prisoners).”

Mousavi further underscored Tehran’s efforts to free other Iranian prisoners in the US jails in cooperation with the Swiss government.

Senior US officials have recently pretended in implied words that the recent exchanges of prisoners between Tehran and Washington have been the result of negotiations, but Iranian officials have rushed to strongly reject the claim, saying there has been no direct meeting or negotiations between the two sides.

On Friday, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said the swap was not the result of talks. “And there won’t be any talks in future,” the top security official wrote on his twitter page.

Iran on Thursday confirmed media reports that the United States has released an Iranian physician after spending over a year in jail, while calling on Washington to release all other Iranian citizens taken “hostage”.

Dr. Majid Taheri, an Iranian scientist who had been imprisoned in the US on false charges, was released from jail, Mousavi said in a statement on Thursday night.

Taheri, said to be a longtime resident of Florida, spent 16 months in prison for allegedly violating the US sanctions on Iran.

Mousavi also said that US citizen Michael White, who had been sentenced to prison in Iran for “security crimes” and in a lawsuit brought by “private plaintiffs”, was released after satisfying the plaintiffs in respect to the cause of action while being granted “Islamic mercy for his other crimes”.

“He was released from jail given the time served and in respect of human rights considerations, and left Iran on Thursday,” he added.

Mousavi said the US navy veteran, who had been detained in 2018, was on medical furlough in the Swiss embassy before being allowed to leave Iran.