US agrees $6bn deal with Iran for release of five Americans detained in notorious prison on spying charges

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The United States has reportedly reached a $6 billion agreement with Iran for the release of five American detainees who were held in prison. The detainees, identified as Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz, and two unnamed prisoners, had been charged with spying and were held in the notorious Evin prison. They have now been placed under house arrest in a Tehran hotel, as reported by The New York Times.

As part of the deal, the US government will unfreeze $6 billion in oil assets, and several Iranian prisoners will also be freed. According to Jared Genser, the lawyer for Mr. Namazi, the group will be held at the hotel for a few weeks before being allowed to leave the country. Sources have revealed that one of the unnamed Americans is a scientist and the other is a businessman. An American woman, who was also a prisoner, has already been moved to house arrest.

Mr. Genser described the move of the American hostages from Evin Prison to house arrest as an important development, but emphasized that there are no guarantees about what happens next. Siamak Namazi was arrested in 2015 while on a business trip to Iran and was charged with having “relations with a hostile state.” His father, Baquer Namazi, was released in October 2022 after more than six years of imprisonment in Iran. Emad Sharghi, a businessman, and Morad Tahbaz, an environmentalist, were both arrested in 2018. All three men have denied the charges against them, and the US State Department has previously stated that they were wrongfully detained.

The $6 billion of Iranian assets will be unfrozen in South Korea and transferred to an account in the central bank of Qatar. According to sources, it will be controlled by the Qatar government and can only be used by Iran to pay for humanitarian items like food and medicine.

The Biden administration acknowledged Iran’s move in a statement from National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson. While she described it as an encouraging step, Watson emphasized that the detained US citizens should have never been detained in the first place. She stated that the US government will continue to closely monitor their condition and will not rest until they are all safely back home.

Negotiations for their eventual release remain ongoing and delicate, and details about their house arrest and the efforts to secure their freedom remain limited at this time.

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