Mar 27, 2020, 5:35 PM
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FM Zarif: US taking several Iranian scientists hostage

Tehran, March 27, IRNA – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a message on his Twitter account accused the United States of taking several Iranian scientists hostage at the time of COVID-19 's disease and refusing to grant them medical leave even during the coronavirus outbreak.

"The US has taken several Iranian scientists hostage—without charge or on spurious sanctions charges—& not releasing them," Zarif wrote on his Twitter account on Friday.

"Even when its OWN courts reject the absurd charges the US even refuses medical furlough—amid #covid19—for innocent men jailed in horrific facilities. Release our men,"  he added.

Dr. Sirous Asgari, an Iranian scientist who was exonerated in a US sanctions trial but remains jailed by immigration authorities said the conditions in detention were filthy and overcrowded – and officials were doing little to prevent a deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor, was acquitted in November on federal charges of stealing trade secrets related to his academic work with a university in Ohio. Although the US government lost its case on all charges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has kept him indefinitely detained since the trial. Now he’s speaking out about the “inhumane” treatment that could cost him his life.

Asgari, 59, told the Guardian that his ICE holding facility in Alexandria, Louisiana, had no basic cleaning practices in place and continued to bring in new detainees from across the country with no strategy to minimize the threat of COVID-19.

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