U.S. official tells Iran to send plane for prisoner exchange
The United States and Iran clashed on the prospect of a prisoner swap, with a U.S. official mockingly urging the adversary to send a plane to repatriate its citizens.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday that Tehran had offered "some time ago" to exchange all Iranian and U.S. prisoners but was waiting for a response from the United States.
He received a reply of sorts via social media as Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy homeland security secretary, insisted that the United States had been trying to send back Iranian nationals, the AFP reported.
"We have 11 of your citizens who are illegal aliens who we have been trying to return to your country," tweeted Cuccinelli.
"You suddenly SAY you want them back, so how about you send a charter plane over and we'll return all 11 at once?" he wrote, attacking the credibility of Zarif.
Cuccinelli charged that the U.S. has been trying to send back Sirous Asgari, an Iranian scientist acquitted in November on U.S. charges he stole secrets while on an academic visit to Ohio.
The Iranian foreign ministry said that Asgari contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus while in U.S. custody.
Iran is holding U.S. citizens Siamak Namazi, convicted on charges that include espionage, his father Baquer and environmental expert Morad Tahbaz.