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Iran-American prisoners involved in swap, fund release

August 11, 2023 at 3:57 pm

Heavily armed policemen patroll outside the courthouse during the trial of four persons including an Iranian diplomate and Belgian-Iranian couple before the Antwerp criminal court in Antwerp, on February 4, 2021 [DIRK WAEM/BELGA/AFP via Getty Images]

Iran may free five detained US citizens as part of a deal, under which $6 billion in Iranian funds in South Korea would be unfrozen, and has moved four of them from jail to house arrest, Reuters reports.

The following are the prisoners in Iran who will be moved to house arrest:

Siamak Namazi 

Siamak Namazi, a businessman in his early 50s with dual US-Iranian citizenship, was detained in 2015 by the Revolutionary Guards while visiting his family in Tehran. Months later, his ailing father, Baquer, was detained after returning to Iran to visit his jailed son. They were both sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison for spying and cooperating with the US government.

A former Iranian provincial governor and former UNICEF official who also has dual citizenship, Baquer Namazi was put under house arrest in 2018 on medical grounds and left Iran in 2022 for medical treatment.

Emad Sharghi 

In 2017, Sharghi and his wife moved to Iran from the United States. The Iranian-American businessman was first arrested in 2018 when working for “Saravan Holding” Tech Investment Company. He was released on bail after eight months, and a Revolutionary Court cleared him of spying and security-related charges, but his travel ban remained.

In November, 2020, he was summoned by another Revolutionary Court, which sentenced him to 10 years in jail for espionage. He was not initially imprisoned but Iranian media reported he was arrested as he tried to flee Iran in January 2021.

Morad Tahbaz 

An Iranian-American environmentalist, who also holds British citizenship, Tahbaz was arrested in 2018. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2019 for “assembly and collusion against Iran’s national security” and “contacts with US enemy government … for the purpose of spying”.

The fourth and fifth prisoners were not identified.

Iranian prisoners in the US 

Under the deal, five Iranians jailed in the United States will be released. For years, Iran has demanded the release of a dozen Iranians in the United States, including seven Iranian-American dual nationals, two Iranians with permanent US residency and four Iranian citizens with no legal status in the United States.

Most of them have been sentenced to jail for “violating US sanctions against Iran”.

READ: Iran to refer South Korea dispute over frozen assets for arbitration