Shafaq News / The United States and Iran have reached an agreement to win the freedom of five imprisoned Americans in exchange for several jailed Iranians and eventual access to about $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue, according to several people familiar with the deal.
As a first step in the agreement, which comes after more than two years of quiet negotiations, Iran has released into house arrest five Iranian American dual citizens, according to the lawyer for one of the prisoners.
“The move by Iran of the American hostages from Evin Prison to house arrest is an important development,” said Jared Genser, the lawyer for Siamak Namazi, one of the Americans released on Thursday.
In addition to Mr. Namazi, the prisoners are Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz, who had all been imprisoned on unsubstantiated charges of spying, as well as two others whose families withheld their names. One of the unnamed Americans is a scientist, and the other is a businessman, according to two people briefed on the arrangements of the release.
The three named prisoners and one other person were transferred on Thursday from Evin Prison, one of the most notorious detention centers in Iran, to a hotel in Tehran, the capital, where they will be held for several weeks until they are allowed to board an airplane, Mr. Genser said. One other prisoner, an American woman, had been released into house arrest earlier, according to several people familiar with the arrangements.
“While I hope this will be the first step to their ultimate release, this is at best the beginning of the end and nothing more,” Mr. Genser said in a statement. “But there are simply no guarantees about what happens from here.”
He said the Americans were told they would be held at the hotel under guard by Iranian officials.
Biden administration officials declined to comment or to confirm details about what Iran will get in return. But the people familiar with the agreement said that when the Americans are allowed to return to the United States, the Biden administration will release a handful of Iranian nationals serving prison sentences for violating sanctions on Iran.
The United States will also transfer nearly $6 billion of Iran’s assets in South Korea, putting the funds into an account in the central bank of Qatar, according to the people familiar with the deal. The account will be controlled by the government of Qatar and regulated so Iran can gain access to the money only to pay vendors for humanitarian purchases such as medicine and food, they said.
(The New York Times)