Five Americans are on their way home to the US after several years in jail in Iran as a hostage. Doha mediated between America and Iran, and this current move happened when $6bn Iranian funds held in South Korea were about to reach banks in Qatar, and it paved the way to the release and departure of four men and a woman to their home. They are also Iranian citizens who reached Doha for an initial stay and will be on their way to the United States. American officials met them at Doha airport and said the citizens were imprisoned for baseless charges. In August, the deal to release the Americans reached a point when they were moved from Evin jail to a safe house in Tehran.
After the Plane landed in Doha, United States President Joe Biden expressed that innocent Americans were coming home who were imprisoned in Iran on false charges. All five have suffered for years in jail, Biden said. During his speech, Mr. Biden announced new sanctions on former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Tehran’s Ministry of Intelligence, saying they were involved in unlawful detention. Siamak Namazi, one of the American prisoners, stated that he was free just because of the people who did not let others forget about him.
Siamak expressed his gratitude from the depths of his heart, thanking the listener for being his voice when he was unable to speak for himself. Additionally, he appreciated that his voice was heard even when he was behind the concrete walls of Evin Prison. Siamak also thanked President Biden for making tough decisions to set them free from jail.
Qatar Played a Mediated Role And Conducted Several Talks
The deal comes as a prison swap with the five Iranians who were in American jail on the charges of violating US sanctions. The names of the Iranians are Mehrdad Moein Ansari, Reza Sarhangpour, Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, Kambiz Attar Kashani, and Amin Hasanzadeh. The talks had been going on for a long time since February last year, and Qater was playing a mediated role between Tehran and Washington. Sources claimed that around nine different talk sessions were conducted in Doha, Qatar, and its officials visited America and Iran several times.
Professor at Georgetown University in Qatar, Mehran Kamrava, says both countries have got some benefits from the deal. He noted that President Biden has elections overhead and bringing Americans home is a big win, and Iranians got their citizens back and six billion dollars as well. Iranian officials repeatedly claimed they would use the funds wherever they wanted, but some sources familiar with the matter described the money going to Tehran would strictly be controlled. Sources claim that no funds would be transferred directly to Iran but would be provided in terms of humanitarian transactions, including food and medicine, through thirty member vendors from time to time.
Sources told a news agency that these Iranian funds were not a part of the money frozen due to United States sanctions, but these payments in South Korea were revenue from Tehran’s oil sales. This amount of six billion dollars was non-sanctioned aid not transferred to Iran due to some currency issues and other difficulties.
Who Were Those Americans, And What Were Their Crimes
Here are some details of Americans released after the prisoner swap:
Siamak Namazi: He was a Dubai-based oil executive and was arrested by Iran in 2015. His father, Baquer, was allowed to visit him but was also detained, and Iranian authorities sentenced them to ten years. They were accused of having alleged connections with foreign enemies. Baquer was freed on a medical basis for treatment in 2022.
Morad Tahbaz: Tehran arrested him in 2018 along with eight other Iranian conservationists. They were on an adventure to take a closer look at the endangered lives of Asiatic cheetahs but were charged with spying. Tehran sentenced them to ten years in prison.
Emad Shargi: He was detained in 2018 while working for an Iranian venture capital fund. Later, he was set free of spying charges. In 2020, he was informed that he had been convicted in absentia and sent to prison for ten years. Authorities released him after an appeal and again detained him in 2021 for the accusations of making attempts to cross the Iranian border illegally.
However, the names of two other Americans released citizens are not exposed.