Political scientist arrested in Watertown in 2021 released to Iran in prisoner swap

Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, an Iranian citizen and political scientist, was released to Iran on Monday. The Associated Press identified him as one of the five people released from the U.S. in a prisoner swap.

Afrasiabi was arrested in 2021 in his Massachusetts home on charges of acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Iran in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice alleged that Afrasiabi “pitched himself to Congress, journalists, and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran” while he was secretly being paid by the government of Iran. Afrasiabi had been employed by the Iranian government since at least 2007, the justice department said.

In exchange for Afrasiabi and four others, Iran released five prisoners to the United States, including Connecticut resident and environmental activist Morad Tahbaz, who was detained in Iran for over five years. The Biden administration said none of the Iranians released pose a threat to national security, according to The Associated Press.

As part of the deal, Iran also received access to $6 billion in frozen oil revenues, NPR reported.


Katie Cole Associate Producer, Digital
Katie Cole is an associate producer for digital.



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