Iran moves five Iranian-Americans from prison to house arrest
Iran has transferred five Iranian-Americans from prison to house arrest in exchange for $6 billion to $7 billion frozen in South Korea as a result of sanctions. The money would be transferred via Qatar if the agreement goes through, Iranian officials said.
The agreement, which is still being negotiated, could eventually pave the way for the full release of the Americans. Iranian officials at the UN told the Associated Press the transfer was “a significant initial step” in the implementation of the deal.
The final transfer of money to the regime and the full release of the detainees is expected in September. Nevertheless, the tentative agreement is bound to subject US President Joe Biden to fresh criticism from the GOP over his administration helping boost the Iranian economy.
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The five detainees will likely be held at a hotel under guard, said US-based lawyer Jared Genser, adding there are “simply no guarantees about what happens from here.” It remains unclear how many Iranian-Americans are kept in detention in Tehran.
Meanwhile, Iran – which does not recognise dual citizenship – has said it seeks the release of Iranian prisoners held in the US. American officials declined to comment on how many Iranians might be released as part of a final agreement.
Tehran and Washington share a delicate history of prisoner swaps, with the most recent one happening in 2016, when the regime agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions. Four Americans flew home from Iran and several Iranians in the US won their freedom.