US, Iran said to strike prisoner deal as jailed Americans move to house arrest

US news outlets report that as part of the deal the US will free Iranian prisoners and release $6 million in frozen Iranian oil profits in return for the release of American prisoners, including businessman Siamak Namazi, imprisoned since 2015; 'They will only be able to leave Iran when the money will be released'

Ynet |
A prisoner deal was reached between the US and Iran: US media outlets are reporting Thursday evening that Iran will release five American prisoners it holds, in exchange for the release of several Iranian prisoners as well as the release of $6 billion in oil sales profits frozen in South Korea. As a first step under the deal's framework, Iran on Thursday released the five American prisoners, who have been held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, to house arrest.
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The United States has not yet officially confirmed the deal, but the spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House confirmed that the American prisoners in Iran have been released to house arrest. He said that the talks for their complete release from the Islamic Republic are still ongoing. An American official told the Reuters news agency that they will only be allowed to leave Iran when the money from South Korea is released, Tehran has yet to comment on the reports.
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ג'ו ביידן ואיברהים ראיסי
ג'ו ביידן ואיברהים ראיסי
Iran's Ibramin Raisi and US President Joe Biden
(Photos: AFP, AP)
The New York Times, which was the first to report on the deal, reported that all five prisoners have American-Iranian citizenship, and for now the names of three are known: Siamak Namazi, who has been imprisoned since 2015; another businessman named Emad Shargi, who has been imprisoned since 2020; and an environmental activist named Morad Tahbaz, who was arrested in 2018. All three were accused of baseless espionage offenses. The names of the other two prisoners currently are not known, but the New York Times reports that one of them is a woman.
Namazi's lawyer, Jared Genser, said that the three prisoners whose names are known and one other were transferred Thursday to a hotel in the capital, Tehran, where they will probably be held for several weeks until they are allowed to leave the territory of the Islamic Republic. A fifth prisoner was reportedly transferred to house arrest earlier.
"I hope that the nightmare of Siamak and the other prisoners will finally come to an end, but I am not celebrating until the plane takes off from Tehran," Genser said. "All I can say now is that I'm more optimistic than ever."
The reports about the prisoner deal, which have not yet been confirmed by Washington and Tehran, come against the backdrop of high tensions in the region - the US recently sent 3,000 soldiers to the Persian Gulf following a series of incidents in which Iranian warships harassed civilian vessels. At the heart of the tensions is Iran's nuclear program. Since the withdrawal of the US from the nuclear agreement five years ago, it has been enriching more and more uranium and rushing toward the ability to develop nuclear weapons.
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האמריקנים שכלואים באיראן
האמריקנים שכלואים באיראן
Three of the American prisoners held in Iran
The US under the administration of President Joe Biden previously hoped to return Iran to the nuclear deal, but the talks between the parties collapsed last year. In recent months, there have been reports of renewed negotiations between the parties with the aim of reaching a narrower deal – one that is mainly aimed at preventing a further escalation in tensions and that would include a prisoner exchange and release of frozen funds. Now it seems that these talks have borne fruit.
According to the report in the New York Times, the current deal was almost reached as early as March, but was delayed due to the arrest of one of the two prisoners who have now been transferred to house arrest and whose names are not known at this time. Iranian officials told the newspaper the US then demanded that this prisoner also be included in the deal, and Iran initially refused.
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