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Pompeo Declines to Comment on Any Prisoner Swap with Iran

Pompeo Declines to Comment on Any Prisoner Swap with Iran

Thursday, 26 September, 2019 - 17:15
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the United Against Nuclear Iran Summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, US September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a prisoner exchange between Washington and Tehran following reports that the US had deported an Iranian woman.

"So, I never talk about sensitive issues as you described there," Pompeo told reporters in New York when asked about the woman, Negar Ghodskani, who pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States and was sentenced by a federal court to time served, and whether he expected Iran to soon release a detained Princeton University doctoral student.

Robert Richman, an attorney for 40-year-old Ghodskani, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the woman left Minnesota on Tuesday.

He said she arrived in Iran on Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Ghodskani and others established a front company in Malaysia to illegally obtain restricted communications circuitry from companies in Minnesota and Massachusetts. She was indicted in 2015 in Minnesota and arrested in Australia in 2017.

Richman said that to his knowledge, Ghodskani's deportation was not part of any prisoner swap with Iran, adding she agreed to plead guilty and be deported so she could resolve the case and reunite with her family.

Xiyue Wang, a US citizen who was conducting dissertation research in Iran in 2016 when he was detained by Iranian authorities, was accused by Iran of "spying under the cover of research," a claim his family and university deny.

He was subsequently convicted on espionage charges, sentenced to 10 years in prison, and his appeal was denied.

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