West News Wire: On Thursday, the United States and Iran came to an agreement that would see the release of five American prisoners in exchange for the release of numerous Iranian prisoners and access to $6 billion in frozen Iranian oil money.
Five Americans have been placed under house detention at Tehran’s Evin jail, according to US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson, and talks for their release are still ongoing.
Watson stated, “We have confirmation that Iran has released from prison and placed under house arrest five Americans who were detained.”
She continued, noting that the White House will have little more to say since “negotiations for their ultimate release remain ongoing,” adding that “we will not rest until they are all back home in the United States.”
Iran’s mission to the United Nations confirmed the transfers and said they were part of a US-Iranian prisoner exchange deal.
According to the mission, state news agency IRNA, “under the deal mediated by a third country, five Iranians detained in the United States will be freed and Iran’s frozen funds in South Korea will be unblocked and transferred to Qatar.”
According to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency, $6 billion of its assets in South Korea would be changed to euros before being transferred to a Qatari account that Iran could access.
According to Reuters, the money could only be used for humanitarian causes, such as purchasing food or medicine.
In June, West News Wire first reported that relations between Washington and Tehran were progressing and the two sides agreed to an interim nuclear deal where Iran would not enrich to 60 percent and would cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the monitoring and verification of its nuclear programme.
In exchange, Tehran would be allowed to export up to a million barrels of oil per day and gain access to its income and other frozen funds abroad. Those funds would have to be exclusively used to purchase a range of essential items, including food and medication.
Days later, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he could endorse an agreement with the West if Iran’s nuclear infrastructure was kept intact. Khamenei also said that Iran should maintain at least some cooperation with international nuclear inspectors.
However, sources later told that the US insisted that further progress could not be made unless an agreement was reached over the issue of US-Iranian dual national prisoners.
The identities of the fifth person who was previously placed under house arrest and the fourth American who was released from prison are being kept secret.
The five will not be permitted to leave Iran until September, according to Reuters, who obtained the information from an unknown source.
Namazi was detained in October 2015 on suspicion of attempting to topple the government, which he vigorously disputes. He has spent more than seven years in Iranian captivity. In October, after defending himself against analogous accusations that Washington also denied, his father, Baquer, was given permission to leave Iran for medical treatment.
Tahbaz, who was arrested in 2018, was given a 10-year sentence for “assembly and collusion against Iran’s national security” as well as for alleged US espionage.
Similarly, Shargi was sentenced to a decade behind bars in 2020 on spying charges.
Earlier on Thursday, the pro-government Khorasan Daily reported that a woman holding dual Iranian and American citizenship was arrested on accusations of espionage.
The daily did not disclose the individual’s identity but noted that she “had worked with non-governmental organisations in Afghanistan”. So far officials from the United States have not issued any response to these claims.