5 Americans Freed From Iran Prison As US Hands Over $6 Billion In Controversial Deal – Gulf Insider

The five American citizens (dual nationals) who had been imprisoned in Iran are on their way toward freedom, having been flown from Tehran to a Doha airport where they will be swapped for two Iranians who had been imprisoned in the US. “Simultaneously, the three other Iranian prisoners who lived in the US have been freed,” Iran’s Nournews said. Axios has also confirmed the Americans have been freed from Evin prison.

On Monday two Qatar banks received the transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian money from South Korea via the SWIFT international payment system. The Biden administration had issued a sanctions waiver to make it happen without running afoul of US law. Amid the swap unfolding, news wires are reporting this unexpected development: 

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Facing criticism from Iran hawks among Republicans in Congress, a senior Biden admin official sought to defend the release of the billions back to Iran, telling The Wall Street Journal that “The alternative is these Americans never come home.”

According to a review of the identities of these freed Americans, all who also hold Iranian citizenship, they were all arrested on espionage related charges over the past several years:

Washington has long accused the Islamic Republic of using trumped-up spy charges to hold Americans as bargaining chips. Tehran has at the same time accused the US of ‘piracy’ and theft for seizing its sovereign assets internationally, and for stealing oil.

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In recent years Qatar has often played mediator in high-level prisoner exchanges, such as the US-Russia deal which freed WNBA star Brittney Griner in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout. Qatar in this new swap is charged with ensuring the newly released funds are spent on goods not subject to sanctions, such as food and medicine. 

But Iranian President Raisi has defiantly told his population that the government will spend it as it sees fit, having complete ownership of its own assets.

According to The Guardian, “The path to the swap reached a turning point when the state department agreed a waiver facilitating the release of the cash from South Korean banks to accounts in Switzerland and Doha.”

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As for logistics, the same report details, “The five Americans have already been transferred out of Evin jail in Tehran to various hotels in the capital. They are due to be flown initially to Doha before flying to the US for a homecoming.” The airport tarmac swap is likely to be less dramatic than the Griner-Bout swap, and footage of the event is probably not going to be made public.


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Works as an in-house Writer at Gulf Tech Plus and focuses on the latest smart consumer electronics. Closely follows the latest trends in consumer IoT and how it affects our daily lives. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

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