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Monday June 17, 2024

US 'buys' freedom of 5 Americans jailed in Iran by unfreezing its $6 billion

They had been detained in Iran's notorious Evin prison and their release follows a series of delays

By Web Desk
September 18, 2023
This picture shows (Left to right) Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi, Iranian-US citizens to be freed from prison under the deal. — Reuters/File, Facebook/@Free the Namazis, X/@NedaShargi
This picture shows (Left to right) Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi, Iranian-US citizens to be freed from prison under the deal. — Reuters/File, Facebook/@Free the Namazis, X/@NedaShargi

Five Americans, including one woman, who hold Iranian passports, are expected to return home as part of a Qatar-mediated deal that has also resulted in the unfreezing of frozen $6 billion of Iranian funds, BBC reported on Monday.

The hefty deal states that the four men and one woman will board a plane once $6 billion in Iranian funds, once held in South Korea, reach banks in Doha, as part of a year-long indirect talks.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said the funds, blocked in South Korea after US sanctions on Iran were hardened in 2018, would be available to Tehran on Monday. Under the deal, Qatar will ensure it is spent on humanitarian goods.

There was no immediate public US comment.

The five Iranians imprisoned in US jails, mainly on sanctions violations, will be released on Monday morning. 

The Americans, including Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz, who holds British citizenship, were previously promised their release. The release follows a series of delays.

They had been detained in Iran's notorious Evin prison but now it seems that their release will officially be made on Monday morning.

President Biden has long been asked to free the Americans who are widely believed to be being held as hostages by Iran as a negotiating chip.

With this agreement, Iran is able to release money it received from the sale of oil to South Korea, albeit the money that was deposited in Qatari banks can only be used by other people to buy necessities like food and medication.

The trade is difficult and contentious and leading US Republicans and Iranian activists are denouncing it because they believe it will simply inspire more hostage-taking.

However, it appears that today will be a day of great relief and happiness for convicts and their loved ones.