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Five Americans Released from Iran
American citizens were freed. Under a pact struck between the United States and Iran, and flown to the United States on Monday, landing in Doha, Qatar before taking a flight back home during the day.
Among the Americans repatriated were Siyamak Namazi, Emad Sharqi, and Morad Tahbaz, along with two others who have chosen not to disclose their identities publicly. All five Americans had been wrongly detained by the Iranian government, according to U.S. officials.
According to an American official, Tahbaz’s wife, Vida, and Namazi’s mother, Effie, were also allowed to leave Iran under arrangement. In contrast to the others, they had not been sent to jail by the Iranian regime but were previously prevented from leaving the country.
President Joe Biden stated, “Today, five innocent American citizens, who had been detained in Iran, are finally coming home.”
After years of suffering, uncertainty, and agony, Siyamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Sharqi, and two more residents who choose to remain anonymous will soon be reunited with their loved ones, he added.
We were able to accomplish this with the help of our domestic and international partners, including the governments of South Korea, Switzerland, Qatar, and Oman result,” the president continued.
He went on to thank Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad of Qatar and Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman in particular for their assistance in making this agreement possible during months of difficult and diplomatic negotiations.
Speaking in New York, Secretary of State Blinken said he was “very pleased” to engage in “emotional conversations” with the Americans upon their arrival in Doha, where he emphasized thispossessed a “good reminder of the human element.”
We consider everything we do, he claimed.
He also mentioned that Blinken’s comments about his own kidnapping in Iran made 16 years ago, have still not provided any information about the whereabouts of American Bob Levinson.
“Bob Levinson, who was… pronounced dead, is also on our minds. Bob Levinson’s legacy is alive and well, powerfully alive, and he is giving us the tools to hold accountable and deter those who would misuse international norms,” he said.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry had initially announced that the Americans would be released on Monday morning, which fulfills last month’s agreement between Washington and Tehran, in which the U.S. committed to granting clemency to five Iranians and releasing nearly $6 billion of frozen funds to Iran in exchange for the release.
All seven will be taken to Doha via a Qatari plane. From there, American officials are planning to “depart for Washington, D.C. as soon as practicable,” where they will reunite with their families, and the Defense Department will be prepared to assist “those who may seek assistance” in their recovery and reintegration into civilian life.
The five Iranians involved in the deal have either been charged with nonviolent crimes or have been labeled as guilty. Two of them lack legal residency in the United States and will be taken to Doha by the U.S. Marshals Service before proceeding to Iran.
Two others are permanent U.S. residents, and one holds dual Iranian-American citizenship. Administration officials did not disclose whether they will remain in the U.S. or not.
The five Americans detained had previously spent time in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison but were placed under house arrest when Tehran and Washington reached a tentative agreement.
58-year-old businessman Sharqi was taken into custody in 2018 without any clarification and released in 2019, before being arrested again in 2020 on espionage charges, resulting in a 10-year sentence.
67-year-old Tahbaz is an Iranian-American conservationist with British citizenship. He was detained in 2018 and given a 10-year prison term.
Blinken signed extensive waivers in American sanctions, paving the way for Iran to transfer approximately $6 billion in oil revenue to international banks in exchange for the release of five American citizens detained by Iran.
The $6 billion is coming from a restricted account in South Korea, where the United States effectively halted Tehran’s ability to access it after the Trump administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reimposed sanctions against Tehran, including restrictions on how Iran could spend its funds.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nasir Kanan, expressed hope that Iran would begin receiving its frozen assets on Monday, stating that “active diplomacy” had been responsible for the release of funds.
Kanan stated, “Today, these assets will be distributed. Investment will be made wherever needed.”A few days after the initial announcement, Republicans criticized the planned swap.
“Iran must immediately and unconditionally release the innocent American hostages. However, I am deeply concerned that the administration’s decision to lift sanctions on Iran’s top terrorism sponsor provides direct encouragement for Iran’s future hostage-taking,” said Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
However, National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby emphasized during a press briefing on Wednesday that “Iran will not get relief from sanctions.”
“This is Iranian money that has been placed in these accounts to help with certain transactions with other nations regarding items like Iranian oil. … This is not a blank check. They cannot spend it as they see fit. They will have to request a withdrawal for humanitarian purposes only,” he said. It will require adequate investigation to confirm the validity of the request.
According to Kirby, the beneficiaries will be the Iranian people, not the government.
When asked about Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s claim that the money is “exchangeable,” Kirby responded, “That’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong.”
Responding to Republican complaints, Kirby said there would be “no payment of any kind” and “no quid pro quo” in this agreement.
Representative Kevin Hern tweeted on Tuesday, “As the Chairman of [the Republican Study Committee], we will use all legislative options to reverse this deal and use all lawful means to provide relief and sanctions against Iran going forward.”
Iranian spokesperson Kanan confirmed that only two of the detained Iranians had expressed a desire to return to Iran voluntarily, while one person would join their family in a third country, and the other two Iranian citizens wanted to remain in the United States.