US rejects Iranian claims of a prisoner swap deal, calling it a “cruel lie”
- The United States on Sunday quashed Iran’s claims that a prisoner swap deal was nearing completion.
- Earlier, the Iranian foreign minister said on state television that a prisoner exchange deal between the United States and Iran has essentially been agreed.
- Talks between Iran and the Biden administration remain deadlocked on re-entry to the 2015 nuclear deal
The US State Department has rejected claims by Iranian foreign officials that the two countries reached a prisoner exchange deal.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said during an appearance on state television on Sunday that such an agreement had been reached.
But shortly thereafter, US State Department spokesman Ned Price responded: “Statements by Iranian officials that a prisoner swap deal has been reached is another particularly cruel lie that only adds to the suffering of their families.”
We are working tirelessly to secure the release of the three Americans wrongfully detained in Iran. We will not stop until they are reunited with their loved ones,’ he added.
Iranian officials had claimed that the deal was essentially done and only awaited “technical coordination” from the US.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Sunday there was no truth to the Iranian foreign minister’s claim that a prisoner swap was close to being carried out.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on state television Sunday that a deal had been reached and the governments simply had to work out the logistics before going ahead with a prisoner swap.
Earlier on Sunday, Amirabdollahian said: “Regarding the issue of prisoner exchanges between Iran and the US, we have reached an agreement in the last few days and if all goes well on the US side, I think we will witness a prisoner exchange in a short period of time.” .’
“From our side, everything is ready, while the US is currently working on the final technical coordination,” he added.
Several US citizens are currently in Iranian custody, with charges against them, including espionage.
The prisoners include Iranian-American businessmen Siamak Namazi and Emad Shargi, as well as Morad Tahbaz, an environmentalist with British, American and Iranian citizenship.
Namazi was sentenced, in 2016, to a decade in Iranian prison for spying on behalf of the US government.
Shargi was arrested in 2018 while working for a technology investment firm.
For many years, Iran has tried to negotiate the release of more than a dozen Iranians detained in the US, including several who hold dual citizenship between the two countries, as well as two Iranians with US permanent residence. and four Iranian citizens without legal status in the US.
The Iranian official did not elaborate on the details of the arrangement, and US officials said no such deal had been reached, adding, however, that they are determined to secure the release of the Americans detained in Iran.
Any such swap between the two countries would be the first high-profile prisoner swap since the US traded a major global arms dealer to Russia for WNBA star Brittney Griner last December.
Reuters reported that two countries in the region were involved in a handful of proxy talks between Tehran and Washington over the release of these prisoners.
Some Iranian media claimed last week that the country had reached a prisoner swap deal in exchange for the release of $7 billion in Iranian oil funds currently frozen under US sanctions in South Korea.
British-Iranian environmentalist Morad Tahbaz poses with his daughter Roxanne Tahbaz before his imprisonment
Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi was originally arrested in 2018 and has been detained in Iran ever since.
Iranian-American consultant Siamak Namazi (right) is pictured with his father Baquer Namazi (left). Siamak was originally arrested by Iranian forces in 2016.
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump walked away from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and reimposed a series of crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The 2015 nuclear deal placed restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
In reaction to Trump-era sanctions, Iran has gradually built up its nuclear program, violating the deal involving four other nations.
Talks between the Joe Biden administration and the Iranian government on reviving the nuclear deal have been ongoing since the start of his Oval Office tenure, but recently stalled in September.