Doha and Washington
The US government has announced that five Americans have been wrongfully detained.
Speaking at a press conference shown on state-affiliated Press TV on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Khanani said the agreement would “hopefully be completed” along with other elements.
The detainees arrived earlier at the airport in Tehran and were to be flown to Doha on a Qatar jet, a source briefed on the details of the matter told CNN on Monday afternoon local time.
Freeing the Americans would end a years-long nightmare for those detained. Three of those believed to be part of the deal – Emad Sharqi, Morad Tahbas and Siamak Namasi – have all been jailed for more than five years. Namasi has been detained since 2015. The identities of the other two Americans are not publicly known.
Under the agreement between the US and Iran, $6 billion in Iranian funds held in restricted accounts in South Korea will be transferred to restricted accounts in banks in Qatar. Qatar has notified Iranian and US authorities that the money was transferred from Switzerland to bank accounts in Qatar.
CNN said the funds came from oil sales allowed in accounts set up under the Trump administration. Biden administration officials have insisted that funds transferred to accounts in Qatar can only be used by Iran for humanitarian purchases and that each transaction is monitored by the US Treasury Department.
The deal, which has already drawn criticism from Republicans, also involves the release of five Iranians in US custody.
If successful, the deal would mark a significant diplomatic breakthrough after years of complicated back-and-forth negotiations between Washington and Tehran.
After years of back-and-forth negotiations, the overall outlines of the opposition, unveiled in Doha seven months ago, are beginning to crystallize. The first concrete public actions under the deal took place five weeks ago, when four Americans were transferred to house arrest. A fifth American was already under house arrest.
Namasi holds dual Iranian-American citizenship. His father, Baquer Namazi, was released for medical treatment in October 2022 after more than six years in detention in Iran.
Sharqi, a businessman, and Dahbaz, an environmentalist, were first arrested in 2018. They are also Iranian-American dual citizens.
In an unprecedented interview with CNN from Evin prison in March, Namazi made an emotional appeal to President Joe Biden to step up efforts to secure his release by putting “the freedom of innocent Americans above politics.”
Namasi’s family, as well as the families of Sharqi and Tahbas, have made an urgent call to the Biden administration to intensify efforts to bring their loved ones home.