Middle East

Iran confirms release of 5 Iranians held by US, transfer of frozen assets

Iran, US reached deal to swap prisoners, unfreeze Iranian assets in South Korea

Syed Zafar Mahdi  | 18.09.2023 - Update : 19.09.2023
Iran confirms release of 5 Iranians held by US, transfer of frozen assets Five citizens of United States who had been imprisoned in Iran have been released and landed at International Doha Airport in Doha, Qatar, before flying to the United States, as part of a prisoner exchange deal between Iran and United States, on September 18, 2023.


Iran has confirmed the release of five of its prisoners in the United States on Monday as part of a prisoner exchange deal with Washington. 

State media cited officials as saying that two prisoners - Mehrdad Moein Ansari and Reza Sarhangpour - have arrived in the Qatari capital Doha, from where they will be transferred to Tehran.

Of the other three prisoners, one will be transferred to a third country and two others will remain in the US, according to media reports.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani said the release was "one of the important issues" raised in direct and indirect negotiations between Iran and the US.

He said some of the prisoners will remain in the US after their release and will carry on with their personal and professional lives.

The senior diplomat added that the prisoner swap would "create an understanding" among Americans that they would "not persecute Iranians who are living legally" in that country.

Iranian media also confirmed that five Americans held by Tehran were also transferred to the Qatari capital, Doha, on Monday on a Qatari flight.

Three of them include businessmen Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz, while the fourth and fifth prisoners have not been publicly identified.

Iran's top banker also confirmed on Monday that 5.57 billion euros have been transferred to six Iranian bank accounts in Qatar as part of the deal.

Earlier on Monday, Iranian judiciary’s vice president for international affairs, Kazem Gharibabadi, said in a post on X platform that Iranian prisoners held in the US would be released on Monday as part of a prisoner exchange deal with Washington.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani also said the process of implementing the agreement between Tehran and Washington to exchange the prisoners and unblock Iranian funds in South Korea has “progressed step by step.”

He said Iran will have full possession of its assets frozen in Seoul on Monday, which will be transferred to one of the countries in the region, a reference to Qatar.

Last week, Iran's mission to the United Nations announced the names of five Iranian prisoners held by the US, shortly after the Joe Biden administration issued a blanket waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar.

The five men have been identified as Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, Mehrdad Moein Ansari, Amin Hasanzadeh, Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani, and Kambiz Attar Kashani.

Last month, Iran and the US reached an agreement mediated by Qatar to exchange prisoners and to unfreeze Iran’s assets in South Korea as well as Iraq.

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