Iranian scientist in Oman after being freed by United States

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An Iranian scientist held for months by the United States on charges of buying high-tech U.S. lab equipment arrived in Muscat on Friday, Omani state television reported.

Oman, a U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state which enjoys good relations with Tehran, has previously helped facilitate the release of Western prisoners held by the Islamic republic.

“On the instructions of his majesty Sultan heed the Iranian request, Professor Mojtaba Atarodi, member of the scientific society at Sharif University who had been kept in the United States since 2012 to Muscat airport,” read a news line at the bottom of Oman state television’s screen.

It gave no further details on the circumstances of Atarodi’s return.

Iran’s Press TV, in a report on its website dated Jan. 7, 2012, said Atarodi, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Sharif University of Technology, had been held in the United States since December 2011.

He had been accused of buying advanced lab equipment in violation of U.S. sanctions on Tehran, the television station said.

Iran is in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program, which Washington says is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon. Tehran says its program is for peaceful purposes.

Press TV said that Atarodi, who was 54 at the time of his arrest, was taken into custody on his arrival in Los Angeles on Dec. 7, 2011. It said he had been reportedly held at a detention facility in Dublin, California, about 50 kms southeast of San Francisco.

Iran freed two U.S. citizens who had been sentenced to eight years in jail for spying into Omani custody in September 2011.

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 bail of $1 million.

Iran had earlier released the woman, Sarah Shourd, in September 2010, also by way of Oman.

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