Muscat: An Iranian academic arrived in Muscat yesterday morning after the Government of Oman successfully negotiated his release from a US prison where he had been held for over one year on charges of exporting scientific instruments to Iran.
"On the request of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and on humanitarian grounds, Professor Mojtaba Atarodi is here in Oman after his release from the United States," Oman Television reported yesterday, shortly after the Iranian arrived at Muscat Airport.
Professor Atarodi, 55, is an associate professor in the electrical engineering department at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran and the author of dozens of scientific papers. Atarodi was arrested in December 2011 and held at a prison in California in the US.
The US State Department had then reported that the Iranian had been arrested and charged with buying high-tech equipment from the United States, in violation of trade sanctions against Iran.
Tehran is in a standoff with the West over its nuclear programme, which Washington says is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon. Tehran says its programme is for peaceful purposes.
Oman previously helped in the release of Western prisoners held by the Islamic Republic. Iran freed two US citizens into Omani custody in September 2011 who had been sentenced to eight years in jail for spying. Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were among three people arrested while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 and denied being spies, were flown to Oman after officials there helped secure their release by posting a $1 million bail.
Iran had earlier released a woman, Sarah Shourd, in September 2010, also by way of Oman. In August last year, Oman successfully mediated the release of an Iranian woman, Shahrzad Mir-Qolikhan, held in an American prison.