The Biden administration is said to have agreed to release some Iranian nationals serving jail terms for breaking sanctions on Iran in exchange for the return of five American prisoners.
The United States also agreed to transfer roughly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets in South Korea to Qatar’s state bank account.
The U.S. government claims that Emad Sharghi, Siamak Namazi, and Morad Tahbaz were all illegally jailed on false espionage allegations and are among the American inmates. The other two people were scientists or businessmen, but their families could not reveal their identities.
According to a statement made by National Security Council spokesman Adrienne Watson, five Americans who were wrongfully jailed in Iran have been freed and put under house arrest.
U.S. citizens engaged are being carefully monitored, and the State Department is in contact with their families, according to a statement released by department spokesman Matthew Miller. It will take weeks for the American captives to be removed and returned to the United States. From Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, Namazi, Sharghi, Tahbaz, and a fourth American have been transported to Tehran and held in a hotel where they will remain in detention for the next several weeks before being permitted to board an aircraft.
This comes after months of increased tensions between Iran and the United States. Armed U.S. soldiers might soon be boarding and escorting commercial ships passing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of all oil traded flows, as part of a massive American military buildup in the Persian Gulf. Iranian media have linked U.S. export controls and sanctions against doing business with Iran to the incarceration of various individuals.
The United States claims that these sanctions have been broken by allowing Venezuela to be used as a conduit for financial transfers and by allowing the sale of dual-use technology that may be used for Iran’s military and nuclear programs. Additionally, Iran is seeking access to $7 billion in frozen assets held by South Korean institutions.