Washington again denies claims by the Islamic Republic of Iran, accused of using dual nationals as political pawns in negotiations with the West

US denies agreeing prisoner swap with Iran

photo_camera REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE - US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

Jake Sullivan has been clear: "There is no deal". The US national security adviser has stressed to the press that the US has not reached a deal with Iran to exchange prisoners, contrary to Tehran's announcement. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told state television that the US and Iran had reached a deal on the issue. Amir-Abdollahian said that, if the US side complied, we would witness a prisoner exchange "within a short period of time".

Three Iranian-Americans are currently imprisoned in Iran: Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz. The Ayatollahs' regime has arrested many other citizens - also dual nationals - whom it uses as political pawns in negotiations with the West, such as the Iranian-German Jamshid Sharmahd, arrested in 2020 and recently sentenced to death for "corruption on Earth".

Also noteworthy in this regard is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian citizen who was released after six years in detention following the UK's settlement of a 拢400 million debt to Iran.

In addition, since the start of the anti-government protests, Tehran has arrested several foreigners, most of them French, Italian and Polish. In fact, just a few weeks ago, the Iranian regime released Spanish national Ana Baneira after five months in prison. However, her compatriot Santiago Sanchez has been in prison since October, when he was arrested after visiting the tomb of Mahsa Amini. 

"The last thing we want to do is create false hope for families who have been waiting a long time for their loved ones to come home," Sullivan said, reiterating statements by State Department spokesman Ned Price, who called Iran's claims "a cruel lie".

Prince denied this agreement to CNN a few days ago, saying that this situation "only adds to the suffering of the families". Nevertheless, Price stressed that they were working "tirelessly" to secure the release of the three Americans "unjustly" imprisoned in Iran. "We will not stop until they are reunited with their loved ones," he said. 

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A spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) expressed a similar view, calling Tehran's statements "false". "Unfortunately, Iranian authorities will not hesitate to make things up, and the latest callous claim will cause further anguish for the families of Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz," the senior US official told Reuters.

Namazi is a dual-citizen businessman who was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison for spying and cooperating with the US government. Iranian authorities recently allowed him to conduct an interview with CNN from Tehran's Evin Prison, where he called on President Joe Biden to fight for his release and that of the two other US citizens arrested in the country: Emad Shargi, also a businessman, and Morad Tahbaz, an environmentalist. Both were imprisoned in 2018.

Like Price, the NSC spokesperson remarked that the US was "committed to securing the release" of the detainees. "But, at this time, we have nothing to announce," he acknowledged.

According to Iran's chief diplomat, Amir-Abdollahian, the agreement had already been "signed and indirectly approved" last year, while the Americans were making "final technical arrangements" before the implementation of the alleged deal.

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As the news agency points out, Tehran has been trying for several years to secure the release of more than a dozen Iranians in the US, including seven dual nationals, two Iranians with permanent residency in the US and four others without legal status.

Americas Coordinator: Jos茅 Antonio Sierra.

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