HomeBreaking NewsFive Americans detained and released from Iran land in Qatar

Five Americans detained and released from Iran land in Qatar

Five American citizens released as part of a US-Iran deal left the country by plane and landed in Doha, Qatar, on Monday.

Later on Monday, they will be flown back to the US.

Among the repatriated Americans are Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz, as well as two others who asked that their identities not be made public. The five have been designated as unjustly detained by the United States government.

A Qatari plane carrying five American citizens who were detained in Iran lands at Doha International Airport in Doha, Qatar, on September 18, 2023.

Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images

According to a US official, Tahbaz’s wife, Vida, and Namazi’s mother, Effie, were also allowed to leave Iran under the deal. Unlike the other five, they had not been imprisoned by the Iranian regime, but had previously been banned from leaving the country.

In a statement, President Joe Biden said: “Today, five innocent Americans who were imprisoned in Iran are finally returning home.”

“Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Sharghi and two citizens who wish to remain private will soon be reunited with their loved ones, after enduring years of agony, uncertainty and suffering,” he said. “I thank our domestic and foreign partners for their tireless efforts in helping us achieve this result, including the governments of Qatar, Oman, Switzerland and South Korea.

“I give special thanks to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, and the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq, who helped facilitate this agreement over many months of difficult and principled American diplomacy,” he said.

PHOTO: Freed American prisoners board a plane from Tehran, Iran, to Doha, Qatar, on September 18, 2023.

Released American prisoners board a plane from Tehran, Iran, to Doha, Qatar, on September 18, 2023.

WANA/Pool via Reuters

The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced for the first time that the American citizens would be released imminently on Monday morning, fulfilling an agreement reached between Washington and Tehran last month, in which the United States promised to grant clemency to five Iranians and facilitate Iran’s access to approximately $6 billion in frozen oil. income on the condition that the money is used for humanitarian purposes.

PHOTO: Mehrdad Moein Ansari, left, and Reza Sarhangpour, two Iranian nationals who were detained in the United States and released in a prisoner exchange deal with Iran, pose for a photo at Doha International Airport in Doha on Sept. 18, 2023.

Mehrdad Moein Ansari, left, and Reza Sarhangpour, two Iranian nationals who were detained in the United States and released in a prisoner exchange deal with Iran, pose for a photo at Doha International Airport in Doha on Sept. 18, 2023.

Nournews Agency via AFP/Getty Images

The seven will be transported on a Qatari plane to Doha. From there, U.S. officials say they plan to leave “as quickly as possible” for the Washington, D.C., area, where they will be reunited with their families and the Department of Defense will be available to assist families “who may request assistance in their recovery.” and integration into normal life.”

All five Iranians involved in the trade have been charged or convicted of non-violent crimes. Two of them do not have legal capacity to remain in the United States and will be transported by the U.S. Marshals Service to Doha and then travel to Iran.

Two more are legal permanent residents of the United States and one has dual Iranian-American citizenship. Administration officials did not say whether they would remain the United States.

PHOTO: From left to right, the division shows photos of Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz and Siamak Namazi.

From left to right, the division shows photographs of Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz and Siamak Namazi.


The five detained Americans served time in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, but were placed under house arrest when Tehran and Washington reached an agreement in principle.

Namazi, 51, is an oil executive and dual Iranian-American nationalist. He was first arrested in 2015 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison following a conviction for “collaboration with a hostile government” over his ties to the United States.

Shargi, a 58-year-old businessman, was detained without explanation in 2018 and released in 2019 before being arrested again in 2020 and given a 10-year sentence on an espionage charge.

Tahbaz, 67, is an Iranian-American conservationist who also has British citizenship. He was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a blanket waiver of US sanctions that paved the way for international banks to allow the transfer of approximately $6 billion in oil revenue from Iran in exchange for the release of the five US citizens. detained by Iran.

The $6 billion comes from a restricted account in South Korea, where it was effectively frozen when the United States reinstated sanctions against Tehran after former President Donald Trump abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program. and will be transferred to Qatar. with restrictions on how Iran can spend the funds.

Iran expected to start receiving its frozen assets on Monday, said Nasser Kanaani, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, adding that “active foreign policy” had led to the unlocking of the funds.

“Today this asset will be delivered,” Kanaani said. “It will be invested where necessary.”

Republicans criticized the planned exchange in the days after the initial announcement.

“The Americans held by Iran are innocent hostages who must be immediately and unconditionally released. However, I remain deeply concerned that the administration’s decision to waive sanctions to facilitate the transfer of $6 billion in funds to Iran , the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, creates a direct incentive for America’s adversaries to carry out future hostage takings,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul said in a statement. .

But National Security Council coordinator John Kirby insisted during a news conference Wednesday that “Iran will not get any sanctions relief.”

“It’s Iranian money that had been set up in these accounts to allow some trade from foreign countries in things like Iranian oil… It’s not a blank check. They can’t spend it however they want. It’s not $6 billion in total.” . “They will have to make a withdrawal request for humanitarian purposes only,” she said, adding that there will be “sufficient oversight to ensure the request is valid.”

According to Kirby, the Iranian people will be the beneficiaries of the funds, not the regime.

When asked why it was necessary to release the $6 billion in addition to the five Iranian prisoners, Kirby said, “This is the deal we were able to reach to secure the release of five Americans.”

“We are comfortable with the parameters of this deal. I’ve heard criticism that somehow they are getting the better end. Ask the families of those five Americans who is getting the better end and I think you’ll get a different answer,” he said. .

Asked about Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s claim that money is “fungible,” Kirby said: “He’s wrong. He’s flat out wrong.”

Kirby said the funds in this agreement “are not a payment of any kind” or “a ransom” to secure the release of the Americans, responding to Republican complaints.

“As Chairman of the (Republican Study Committee), we will use every legislative option to reverse this deal and prevent further bailout payments and sanctions relief to Iran,” Rep. Kevin Hern tweeted Tuesday.

Kanaani, the Iranian spokesman, said that only two of the Iranians expected to be released from American prisons were willing to return to Iran.

“Two of the (Iranian) citizens will voluntarily return to Iran, one person will join his family in a third country and the other two citizens will want to stay in the United States,” Kanaani said.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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