An Iranian-American businessman was arrested days before US President Joe Biden took office, promising to reduce tensions with Iran.
Tehran, Iran – Iranian justice confirmed on Tuesday that an Iranian-American man accused of espionage was arrested earlier this month as he tried to flee the country.
Emad Edward Sharghi, 56, was reportedly arrested on January 14. The state-affiliated YJC news site posted images at the time showing that he was being escorted out of a plane.
Sharghi had previously been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “spying and collecting military information” but was being released on bail pending an appeal, YJC said.
“Recently, a person of Iranian nationality, who had charges of espionage and gathering information for other countries in addition to a previous case, and who was released on bail, was detained and re-arrested before to leave the country, ”Iranian justice spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaeili told me.
Esmaeili also told reporters at a press conference that Iran does not arrest people because of their nationality and only pays attention to the charges against them.
Iran does not formally recognize dual nationality status.
Sharghi has been identified as a senior executive at Sarava, a large Iranian holding company that has invested in some of the country’s biggest tech companies.
Sarava said in a statement that his cooperation with Sharghi ended in May 2018 and that linking his case to the company would have “no other purpose than to confuse public opinion and create an air of disappointment. in the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem ”.
Days after Sharghi’s arrest, NBC News quoted a family friend who said that an Iranian court cleared Sharghi in December 2019, but that he had not recovered his Iranian and US passports.
Sharghi’s arrest came shortly before US President Joe Biden entered the White House with a promise to reduce tensions with Iran and seek to bring the United States back into a 2015 nuclear deal. between Iran and the world powers that its predecessor unilaterally abandoned in 2018.
In an interview with NBC News published Tuesday, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi did not specifically comment on the Sharghi case, but reiterated Iran’s previous position that he is open to a prisoner exchange with the United States.
“We are ready to initiate a comprehensive exchange of all prisoners or detainees on both sides, in the United States, in Iran, and those awaiting extradition to the United States. And it’s a very simple and straightforward proposition, ”he said.