A prisoner exchange is underway between the United States and the Islamic Republic after the release of frozen Iranian funds worth $6 billion, a senior White House official confirmed Monday. Five former American prisoners are currently on their way to Qatar, which served as an intermediary in the negotiations.
Should we see this as a sign of appeasement between Tehran and Washington? A senior White House official confirmed Monday, September 18, that five Americans who were prisoners in Iran, as well as two female members of their families, had left the country as part of a politically risky prisoner exchange for Joe Biden.
They are Siamak Namazi, who is accompanied by his mother, Emad Sharqi, Morad Tahbaz, who is leaving Iran with his wife, as well as two other people whose names have not been disclosed .
Five Iranian nationals, prosecuted or convicted in the United States for non-violent offenses, will benefit from clemency measures, he said. This exchange of prisoners will be accompanied by sanctions against the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence as well as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a way for the White House to counter any accusation of appeasement towards the Tehran regime.
According to a source close to the matter, the five freed American citizens are currently on their way to Qatar, which served as mediator between Tehran and Washington.
Among the Iranians released by the United States, “two will return to Iran, another will go to a third country due to the presence of his family in this country and the last two will remain (in the United States).”
“A difficult decision”
This release seemed imminent since the transfer of the five Americans to house arrest a little over a month ago. It is the result of several years of negotiations between Washington and Tehran.
All of the Americans announced for release are of Iranian ancestry. Iran does not recognize dual nationality and has not maintained diplomatic relations with the United States since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The prisoner exchange is accompanied by the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian funds frozen in South Korea to a special account in Qatar, a key point in negotiations over the fate of American prisoners.
Iran will be able to use this sum for humanitarian purchases such as food and medicine.
The White House, which refused to pay a “ransom”, assured, through the senior official already cited, that the use of these funds would be strictly regulated, and insisted that it was not a question of not “American taxpayer money.”
The prisoner exchange was a “difficult decision” for the Democratic president, according to this source. “The alternative was that these Americans would never come home,” explained the senior official.
This agreement on prisoners revives speculation on possible progress around the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew but which Joe Biden had promised to relaunch, without success until here.
Source: France 24