'Nabbing innocent Iranians, US ploy' - FM spokesman
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says the detention of innocent Iranian nationals is a ploy by the United States that is aimed at mounting pressure on Tehran, Press TV reported.
Over the past years, the US government arrested 23 Iranian nationals inside the United States or in other countries, based on unfounded charges, Mehmanparast said on Sunday.
He added that Washington used the pretext of "trading dual-use products and connecting these products to [Iran's] peaceful nuclear program to arrest the Iranian nationals."
"Some countries hand a number of these [Iranian] nationals over to the US under pressure and under the pretext that they have extradition agreements with the US," the official added.
Mehmanparast pointed out that Iran uses legal and political channels to defend its nationals around the world, adding that 10 of the 23 individuals have been released due to Tehran's efforts.
Commenting on the detention in 2007 of Iranian national Shahrzad Mir-Qolikhan by the US, Mehmanparast said as a result of measures taken by Iran, "they had to change her detention center, improve the situation of Mir-Qolikhan's prison and grant the Foreign Ministry consular access to her."
Mir-Qolikhan's ex-husband, Mahmoud Seif, had been accused by the US government of trying to export night-vision goggles to Iran from Austria. She was detained and sentenced to five years in prison by a Florida federal court in his absence.
Mehmanparast said Iran's former Ambassador to Jordan Nosratollah Tajik was also illegally arrested in the UK, and British officials tried to extradite him to the US, "But because of pressures we have exerted and [due to] his lawyers' efforts, Mr. Tajik has not been transferred to the United States."
Tajik was arrested in November 2006 also over accusations of trying to purchase night-vision goggles for Iran from US mediators.
According to British media reports, undercover FBI agents, acting as international military equipment dealers, offered to sell Tajik the night-vision goggles valued over £50,000 while secretly filming him.