A British national and four Americans who were freed by Iran in exchange for $6bn (£4.8bn) and a prisoner swap are now free after landing in Doha.
The group’s plane landed in the Qatari capital shortly after 3.30pm UK time, following its departure from Tehran earlier on Monday.
The released Briton is environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, who has British, American and Iranian nationalities.
He was one of the dual nationals detained at the time negotiations were underway involving the British government to release the former detainee. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
The men were joined on the flight by two family members and Qatar’s ambassador to Iran, a source told Reuters. It is believed that they will now fly to the United States.
The $6bn (£4.8bn) funds, once frozen in South Korea, were released to Qatar after the Biden The Iranian administration has granted a waiver allowing international banks to transfer frozen Iranian money without the repercussions of US sanctions, an Iranian official announced on state television.
THE the agreement also included the release of five unnamed Iranian citizens held in the United States.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said earlier: “The issue of prisoner exchange will be resolved on that day and five prisoners, citizens of the Islamic Republic, will be released from American prisons.
“Five imprisoned citizens who were in Iran will be reciprocally handed over to the US side, depending on their wishes. We expect that these two issues [to] will take place fully on the basis of an agreement.
This comes weeks after Iran announced that the five men had been released from prison and placed under house arrest.
Prisoner exchange between Iran and the United States represents a delicate diplomatic step
This prisoner exchange, or “consular agreement,” represents a delicate diplomatic move and we can expect the Biden administration to come forward with the good news that comes with it.
“The president is rebuilding five families and that’s what this is about,” a senior administration official told me last night.
It’s tricky because it involves a lot of money and it’s tricky because the United States doesn’t want anyone to think that the deal reflects any sort of change in the American position on Iran.
“This agreement has in no way changed our relationship with Iran. Iran is an adversary and state sponsor of terrorism,” the administration official said.
The main controversy concerns the $6 billion in Iranian cash currently held in South Korean banks.
As part of the agreement, the United States provided a specific waiver of its sanctions on Iran, allowing the funds to be transferred to Qatar so that Iran could use them for humanitarian purposes.
“Medicine, medical devices, food and agriculture. That’s it,” the senior White House official said.
All were imprisoned in a notorious prison
Among the dual US-Iranian nationals released by Iran are businessmen Siamak Namazi, 51, and Emad Shargi, 58.
Along with Mr. Tahbaz, they had all been imprisoned in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for espionage.
The identities of the fourth and fifth released prisoners have not been made public.
Two of the Iranian prisoners will remain in the United States, two will fly to Iran and one detainee will join his family in a third country, an Iranian official said.
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A British national among those released
Born in London, Mr. Tahbaz was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for “assembly and collusion against the national security of Iran” and for working as a spy for the United States.
He was – at various stages – the subject of ongoing negotiations for his release involving the British authorities, notably when Dominic Raab and Liz Truss were foreign ministers.
He was temporarily released the same day. A charity worker Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori were released, but were not was subsequently returned to custody.
His daughter Roxanne was among those who called the British government to do more to secure his release.
He is a prominent conservationist and board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect endangered species.
Mr. Namazi was convicted in 2016 of espionage-related charges that the United States dismissed as baseless and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Mr. Shargi was convicted of espionage in 2020 and also sentenced to 10 years in prison.
South Korea’s money represents funds that Seoul owed Iran, but had not yet paid, for oil purchased before Donald Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019 .
The United States maintains that the money will be held in restricted accounts in Qatar and can only be used for humanitarian goods such as medicine and food – transactions permitted by US sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic due to its advanced nuclear program.
The West has accused Iran of using foreign prisoners as bargaining chips, an allegation Tehran rejects.