Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Tuesday that five Americans detained in Iran are expected to be exchanged for five Iranians detained in the United States early next week, “in perfect health”.

As part of the prisoner swap deal first announced on August 10, the United States agreed to transfer $6 billion in Iranian funds from accounts in South Korea to accounts in Qatar, where it can only be spent on humanitarian needs.

The United States said it would oversee how and when the money is spent.

“The funds can only be used for humanitarian purposes, and we will remain vigilant in monitoring the spending of these funds, and we have the ability to freeze them again if necessary,” Matthew Miller, spokesman for the US State Department, told reporters on Tuesday.

Allowing the five to leave Iran may erase a major issue of tension between Washington and Tehran, whose disagreement still exists over issues such as the Iranian nuclear program and Tehran’s support for Shiite factions in the region.

NBC news quoted Raisi as saying on the Nightly News program with Lester Holt, in an interview recorded in Tehran on Tuesday, that the American detainees are in very good health, and according to our latest information, they are in perfect health.

The US State Department said that among the five US citizens expected to be released are Siamak Namazi (51 years old) and Imad Sharqi (59 years old), in addition to environmental activist Murad Tahbaz (67 years old), who also holds British citizenship.

The US State Department didn’t reveal the identity of the fourth and fifth Americans.

The Islamic Republic of Iran official News Agency said that the five Iranians who will be released by the United States are Mehrdad Moin Ansari, Cambiz Attar Kashani, Reza Sarhank Pour Kafarani, Amin Hassanzadeh, and Kavoh Lotfollah Afrasiabi.

The Iranian news agency quoted Iran’s mission to the United Nations as saying, “Some of the released Iranians will remain in the United States, while others will return… to their homeland”.

Eight Iranian sources and other sources familiar with the deal said that the prisoner exchange could take place next week at the earliest.

The deal is the result of indirect talks between the United States and Iran, mediated by Qatar.

John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, told MSNBC that the United States is on the right track to secure the return of the five Americans in the very near future, without specifying a date.

In his interview with NBC news, the Iranian president said, “arrangements have been made and the final procedure for the prisoner exchange will be completed at the appropriate time”.

Raisi appears to realize that the $6 billion can only be used for humanitarian purposes, however he said Iran will decide how to spend the money.

“This money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, and then the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money,” Raisi said in the interview, speaking through an Iranian government translator.

Share it...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *