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Ex-Iran diplomat freed by Britain arrives in Oman

By AFP - Dec 18,2012 - Last updated at Dec 18,2012

MUSCAT — A former Iranian diplomat, who won a British court ruling against his extradition to the US where he is wanted for allegedly smuggling arms, arrived Tuesday in Oman on his way home, an AFP photographer said.

Iran's former ambassador to Jordan Nosratollah Tajik landed in Muscat's Seeb air base on an Omani air force plane.

The Omani foreign ministry said in a statement that Tajik's arrival in Muscat was the fruit of "the sultanate's mediation efforts to release him", at the request of Tehran.

Oman has "coordinated with Britain and the US to find a solution to [Tajik's] case and return him to his home country for humanitarian reasons," it said.

It also thanked the United States and Britain for "responding to these [humanitarian] considerations".

The Islamic republic's IRNA news agency earlier said that Tajik left Britain on Tuesday and would stop in Oman on his way home.

"We have thanked Oman for its positive role in proving the innocence of Tajik and for repatriating him," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran.

Tajik also thanked Omani authorities for mediating his release and insisted he was innocent.

Tajik was arrested in 2006 in Britain over claims he conspired to export US night-vision equipment to Iran without a licence.

Last week, the high court in London announced that Tajik would avoid extradition because Washington had failed to justify delays in the long-running case.

British and US authorities have 14 days to lodge an appeal in Britain's highest court, the supreme court.

The extradition process has also been held up over fears that sending Tajik to the US could further damage British-Iranian relations.

The two countries have had tense ties since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, and Britain's embassy was stormed in November last year by protesters angry at British sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.

Oman, the only Gulf Arab country that maintains warm ties with Tehran, had been a key mediator between Iran and Western powers, with which it also has cordial relations.

In August, Oman mediated the release of an Iranian woman, Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan, jailed by the United States over similar accusations.

Oman also mediated the release of three US hikers jailed in Iran on suspicion of being spies after straying across the border in 2009.

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