US-Iran Prisoner Swap

September 19, 2023
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Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Sharghi, and two citizens who wish to remain private will soon be reunited with their loved ones—after enduring years of agony, uncertainty, and suffering.

President Joe Biden after the release of five U.S. citizens from Iranian imprisonment through a U.S.-Iran prisoner swap.

What To Know: Five U.S. citizens detained by Iran were freed on Monday. Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz had been given a 10-year prison sentence "on unsubstantiated charges of spying" (CBS News). The other two Americans asked to remain anonymous.

The Islamic Republic of Iran (a U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism) and the Biden administration reached a deal that also included the release of five Iranian prisoners in the U.S. and a transfer of nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian oil assets.

These funds are made available to Iran to use for humanitarian purposes. Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate Mitch McConnell (R) said, "the deal that secured their release may very well be the latest example of President Biden rewarding and incentivizing Iran's bad behavior," while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "We have absolute oversight of how … they're [the funds] used, and they can only be used for humanitarian purposes."

In a statement released by President Biden, he said, "As we celebrate the return of these Americans, we also remember those who did not return … Today, we are sanctioning former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence under the Levinson Act for their involvement in wrongful detentions. And, we will continue to impose costs on Iran for their provocative actions in the region."

Worth Noting: The U.S. and Iran have not had official ties since 1979. Since the 2015 nuclear accord was established between the two nations (and then exited in 2018), Switzerland and Qatar have served as go-betweens for the U.S. and Iran. The Swiss ambassador to Tehran had been monitoring the previously detained American's well-being since August and escorted them to the first leg of their flight home.

Read More:

Iran releases 5 Americans in prisoner swap

Statement from President Joe Biden on the Return of American Detainees from Iran

Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to the Press

McConnell: Biden Iran Policy 'Incentivizing Tehran's Bad Behavior'

by Jenna Lee,