Shafaq News / Iran will free prisoners with Western ties in Iran in exchange for billions of dollars from the United States and the United Kingdom, state television reported Sunday. The U.S. immediately denied the report, while the U.K. did not respond, the Washington Post reported.
The state TV report quoted an anonymous official just as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei began giving what authorities earlier described as an “important” speech. However, Khamenei did not immediately discuss any proposed swap amid negotiations in Vienna over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
The official quoted by Iranian state TV said a deal made between the U.S. and Tehran involved a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of $7 billion in frozen Iranian funds.
“The Americans accepted to pay $7 billion and swap four Iranians who were active in bypassing sanctions for four American spies who have served part of their sentences,” state TV said, quoting the official in an on-screen crawl.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price immediately denied the Iranian state TV report.
“Reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached are not true,” Price said. “As we have said, we always raise the cases of Americans detained or missing in Iran. We will not stop until we are able to reunite them with their families.”
Price did not elaborate.
Tehran holds four known Americans now in prison. They include Baquer and Siamak Namazi, environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi. The state TV report did not immediately name the Iranians that Tehran hoped to get the in swap.
State TV also quoted the official as saying a deal had been reached for the United Kingdom to pay 400 million pounds to see the release of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The office of Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred calls to the Foreign Office, which could not be immediately reached.