Monday, September 18, 2023

Iran: Prisoner swap with US to commence today

A prisoner swap involving five Iranian prisoners and five American prisoners will take place on Monday, Reuters reported, citing Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani.

The governor of the Central Bank of Iran has updated that the funds have arrived in Iran's accounts. The funds were transferred by Qatar.

Last week, the Biden administration cleared the way for the release of five American citizens detained in Iran by issuing a blanket waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian money from South Korea to Qatar without fear of US sanctions.

In addition, as part of the deal, the administration has agreed to release five Iranian citizens held in the United States, the news agency said.

The deal was agreed upon last month and, as a first step, Iran at the time released four US citizens from Tehran’s Evin prison into house arrest, where they joined a fifth, who was already under house arrest. The prisoners have not been named.

The waiver means that European, Middle Eastern, and Asian banks will not run afoul of US sanctions in converting the money frozen in South Korea and transferring it to Qatar’s central bank, where it will be held for Iran to use for the purchase of humanitarian goods.

The transfer of the $6 billion was the critical element in the prisoner release deal, which saw four of the five American detainees transferred from Iranian jails into house arrest last month. The fifth detainee had already been under house arrest.