News / Middle East

Iranian Scientist Freed by US Returns Home

Iranian scientist Mojtaba Atarodi (C), who was in U.S. custody since late 2011, speaks to journalists, upon his arrival at the Imam Khomeini airport outside Tehran, April 27, 2013.
Iranian scientist Mojtaba Atarodi (C), who was in U.S. custody since late 2011, speaks to journalists, upon his arrival at the Imam Khomeini airport outside Tehran, April 27, 2013.
Reuters
An Iranian scientist held for more than a year in California on charges of violating U.S. sanctions arrived in Iran on Saturday, Iranian media reported, after being freed in what the Omani Foreign Ministry said was a humanitarian gesture.

Mojtaba Atarodi, 55, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Iran's Sharif University of Technology, had been detained on suspicion of buying high-tech U.S. laboratory equipment, previous Iranian media reports said.

The trade sanctions were imposed over Iran's nuclear program, which Iranian officials say is for peaceful energy purposes only but Washington says is secretly geared to developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency said Atarodi arrived in Tehran on Saturday, after a stopover in Muscat on Friday.

Upon arriving at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport on Saturday, Atarodi told reporters that he had tried to buy simple equipment for his personal lab to conduct academic research when he was detained by U.S. authorities, according to state-run Press TV.

There was no immediate U.S. comment on Atarodi's case.

Oman, a U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state which also enjoys good relations with Tehran, has previously helped mediate the release of Western prisoners held by the Islamic Republic.

Omani authorities had worked with U.S. officials to speed up Atarodi's case and return him home, the foreign ministry in Muscat said in a statement carried by local media.

He was released after follow-up approaches by Iran's foreign ministry, its spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA).

In a report on its website dated January 7, 2012, Press TV said Atarodi was taken into custody on his arrival in Los Angeles on December 7, 2011, accused of buying advanced lab equipment.

Iran and the United States severed relations after the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew the pro-Western monarchy in Tehran.
    
In 2011, Iran freed into Omani custody two U.S. citizens who had been sentenced to eight years in jail for spying.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, among three people arrested while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border in 2009, were flown to Oman after officials there helped secure their release by posting bail of $1 million. They denied being spies.

The third detainee, Sarah Shourd, had been freed in September 2010, also by way of Oman.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid