Iran will release a British national and four Americans held in the country in exchange for $6 billion (£4.8 billion) and a prisoner swap.
The funds, once frozen in South Korea, are now in 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 deal also includes the release of five unnamed Iranian citizens detained in the United States.
The released Briton is environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, who has British, American and Iranian nationalities.
He was among the dual nationals detained at the time negotiations were underway involving the British government to release former detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said: “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.
They will be transferred “soon” to an airport in Tehran before their departure for Qatar, two Iranian officials told Reuters. From there they will then fly to the United States, according to the news agency.
One of the officials said “they are in good health.”
Among the US-Iranian dual nationals released in 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.
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 – on several occasions – 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 is among those calling 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.