White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson, in her written statement, stated that they have received confirmation that the US has taken 5 Americans out of prison and placed under house arrest, which Iran claims to have wrongfully arrested.
“While this is a promising step, the US citizens in question Siamak Namazi, Murad Tahbaz, Imad Sharki and the 2 USers who currently want to remain anonymous should never have been arrested in the first place.” Watson said that they will continue to follow the situation closely and work on this issue.
Watson emphasized that the negotiations for the full release of the detainees are ongoing and the process is sensitive.
The US and Iran media announced that the two countries would exchange prisoners
According to some reports in the American media, the United States and Iran have agreed to exchange several Iranian nationals detained in the United States with five Americans detained in Iran, and Iran’s access to $6 billion in blocked oil revenue.
According to the sources, about $6 billion of Iran’s assets in South Korea will be transferred to an account at the Qatar Central Bank.
It is stated that the account will be controlled by the Qatari government and Iran can only access the money to pay vendors for humanitarian supplies such as medicine and food.
“Prisoners will not be released until money is transferred”
Iran’s semi-official Tesnim News Agency also confirmed the prisoner exchange between Tehran and Washington, in the news it cited on relevant sources. Tesnim wrote that 4 American citizens in Iran will be released, and in return, at least 4 Iranian citizens detained in the USA will be released and return to their countries.
In the news, it was noted that American prisoners placed under house arrest will not be released until all of Iran’s foreign currency resources held in South Korea, which is stated to be 6 billion dollars, are transferred to an account in Qatar.
They can be released after a few weeks
Jared Genser, the lawyer of US citizen Siamak Namazi, who was arrested on charges of espionage in Iran, announced to the American press that 4 US citizens detained in Evin Prison in the capital Tehran were released from prison and placed under house arrest.
Genser evaluated that placing the detainees under house arrest was an important development and said that he hoped this would be the first step towards the complete release of the detainees.
On the other hand, Genser warned that the US citizens in question should not be “overly optimistic” about their freedom until they actually leave Iran, adding, “There is no guarantee as to what will happen from here.” he had given his message.
It is stated that the detainees who are released from the prison will be kept at the hotel for a few weeks under the supervision of the Iranian authorities, and then they will be released.
An unnamed female prisoner had previously been placed under house arrest.
Iran arrested for “espionage”
Iranian-US citizen Namazi, who was said to have been detained in 2015 while on a business trip to Iran, was indicted for “relations with a hostile state”.
Şarki, who was also recorded as a businessman and environmentalist, was arrested in 2018.
The US State Department argues that Namazi, Sharki and Tahbaz were wrongfully arrested.
Iran’s Foreign Minister announced that they are ready to exchange prisoners
Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Emir Abdullahiyan said on 8 August that they were ready to exchange prisoners with the United States without any preconditions.
Stating that they view the prisoner swap as a “human issue”, Abdullahiyan said, “The number does not matter, but messages have been exchanged (between Iran and the USA) for months through Oman and Qatar. We do not observe any preconditions in this regard. We will make a prisoner exchange within the framework agreed upon by the intermediary parties. We announced.” he said.
Both countries have detained citizens
In the USA, some Iranian citizens are accused of “violating the sanctions”, and 5 American citizens are detained in Iran on the allegation of “espionage”.
A prisoner exchange had previously been made between the two countries, and most recently, the former US soldier imprisoned in Iran and the Iranian scientist imprisoned in the USA were released simultaneously in June 2020.
Namazi’s father, 85-year-old Iranian-US citizen Mohammad Bakir Namazi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison again on espionage charges in October 2020, was released and left the country for “humanitarian reasons”.
Iran and the US have long been negotiating prisoner swaps, mediated by Oman and Qatar.