In a major development, Iran has released five US-Iranian dual nationals – Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz (who also has a British passport) – into house arrest. A fourth unidentified man has also been released, together with a fifth American who had previously been released.
Talks between Iran and the United States have been taking place to secure the release of the prisoners. Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council, has commented on the development, saying, “While this is an encouraging step, these US citizens should never have been detained in the first place. We will not rest until they are all back home in the United States”.
The prisoner release talks have reportedly been connected to negotiations over Iranian funds worth $6 billion that had been frozen in South Korea. This recent development is seen as a breakthrough in diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States.
Four dual nationals have reportedly been released from Tehran’s Evin Prison, according to Jared Genser, the lawyer representing Siamak Namazi. Namazi’s brother Babak stated that while this is a welcomed change, they will not rest until all wrongfully detained individuals are released and brought back home.
The 51-year-old was initially detained in 2015 and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison on security charges. The sister of Kavous Seyed Emami, 58, has expressed faith in the work of President Biden and other government officials to secure her brother’s release since his arrested in April 2018.
Businessman and wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, 67, was among those arrested in January 2018 during a crackdown on environmental activists. There is still hope among family members of those detainees that they may yet be freed and safely returned.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the US State Department confirmed the release of five dual nationals who had been detained in Iran. Two of them requested that their identities remain private. Their families have been kept abreast of the situation, and their health and welfare is being monitored.
It is believed that these individuals were part of a prisoner swap being negotiated between Iran and countries such as the US and western nations, in which many Iranians currently held in American and other prisons would have been granted freedom in exchange for the release of the dual nationals. Although this news marks an end to years of grueling negotiations and confinement, it may still be several weeks before the US citizens are able to leave the country.