The United States lambasted Iran for wanting their 11 detained Iranian nationals back but not sending the plane and stalling the repatriation process. Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, lashed out at Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and said the US is ready to deport all of the detained “illegal aliens” at once if Tehran sends a charter plane.
Cuccinelli said that Washington has been trying for months to return Sirous Asgari, an Iranian professor who accused of stealing trade secrets but was acquitted in November last year. Asgari is still under US custody and Cuccinelli said that Iran has suddenly woke up and the professor back.
(2/x) We have 11 of your citizens who are illegal aliens who we have been trying to return to your country. You suddenly SAY you want them back, so how about you send a charter plane over and we’ll return all 11 at once? If you’ve been speaking truth these last few weeks...— Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (@HomelandKen) May 11, 2020
(3/x) ... and you REALLY DO want your citizens back, then stop stalling and send the plane. The world is watching... and expecting the usual outcome, namely, that you will do nothing except keep talking.@JZarif - send the plane!— Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (@HomelandKen) May 11, 2020
After the stinging remarks, spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry hit back at the US official saying it was Zarif who had put forward ‘universal prisoners swap’. Abbas Mousavi accused the United States of risking the lives of Iranian hostages in America and elsewhere even after Zarif urged Washington to act in a responsible manner.
Stop talking rubbish! Since Sep2018, @JZarif has put 'universal prisoners swap' on the table, urged🇺🇸to act responsibly abt the Iranian HOSTAGES in 🇺🇸 & elsewhere. Your regime has reacted callously & risked their lives.🌍is watching your action,not your word. Let our citizens go! pic.twitter.com/xIAeCfI8lG— S.A MOUSAVI (@SAMOUSAVI9) May 11, 2020
In December 2019, Iranian Foreign Minister had said that Tehran is fully ready for a comprehensive prisoner exchange, adding that the ball is in the US' court. On May 10, an Iranian government spokesperson said that the country is ready for a prisoner swap ‘without preconditions’ with the United States.