WASHINGTON — An Iranian whose release reportedly had been sought by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is undergoing deportation proceedings after serving a five year prison sentence for arms smuggling, a US official said Tuesday.
Amir Hossein Ardebili, who was arrested in October 2007 in the Republic of Georgia and extradited to the United States in 2008, was released in February.
He was then turned over to the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for removal, according to a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Ardebili was released from prison for deportation from the United States because he had completed serving his criminal sentence and has no legal immigration status in this country,” the official added.
His charges originally came from a three-year international undercover investigation that “exposed Adrebili’s role as a prolific arms acquisitions agent for the government of Iran,” according to a court document.
“During this investigation, Ardebili negotiated the purchase and illegal export of a number of military components,” it said.
Ardebili was sentenced in 2009 to five years in US prison, taking into account the two years already he had served in custody.
Ahmadinejad earlier asked Washington to release eight Iranian nationals who he said were “illegally detained in the United States,” among them was Ardebili, according to Iranian media.
The United States has rejected prisoner exchanges between the two countries, amid high tension over Tehran’s suspect nuclear program.
In September, two American hikers were released by Iran, a year after a third member of that group were freed in Tehran after receiving long sentences.