Iranian woman convicted of US sanctions violation released

Iranian Negar Ghodskani sentenced in the United States for violating sanctions against Tehran was released last month and returned home (AFP Photo/Lizabeth MENZIES)

Washington (AFP) - An Iranian woman sentenced in the United States for violating sanctions against Tehran was released and has returned home, her lawyer told AFP Thursday, following her country's unsuccessful attempt at a prisoner swap.

A judge in Minneapolis sentenced Negar Ghodskani to 27 months in prison on Tuesday, but determined the time she had already spent in custody in Australia and the United States was enough to fulfill her punishment.

Ghodskani "is now free in Iran with her family," her lawyer Robert Richman said in an email.

A legal resident of Australia, Ghodskani was arrested in Adelaide in 2017 after US prosecutors said she sought US digital communications technology by presenting herself as an employee of a Malaysian company.

US prosecutors said she in fact was sending the technology to Iranian company Fanamoj, which works in public broadcasting.

After extradition to the United States, she confessed to participation in a conspiracy to illegally export technology to Iran in breach of sanctions, according to the US Justice Department.

Pregnant at the time of her arrest, she gave birth while in Australian custody. Her son was sent to Iran to live with his father.

Her case was raised by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in April, who floated a potential prisoner swap for a British-Iranian mother being held in Tehran.

He suggested exchanging Ghodskani for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in jail in Tehran for alleged sedition.

Both women have been separated from their young children while being detained.