Tehran claimed on Saturday that Washington would unfreeze $7 billion in Iranian assets held in South Korea due to U.S. sanctions following the release of Namazis.
“As Iran and the United States finalize talks on the release of prisoners from both countries, $7 billion in blocked Iranian resources will be released,” state news agency IRNA sunday said.
A State Department spokesman denied that any assets would be transferred as part of the deal. The spokesman, who was not named under the State Department agreement, told The Washington Post that Washington is still working to secure the full release of Siamak Namazi and several other U.S. nationals imprisoned in Iran.
“We remain committed and determined to ensure the freedom of all Americans who are unjustly detained in Iran and elsewhere,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. said in a statement Saturday.
Price also thanked “American allies and partners who worked tirelessly to help the Nazis, including the UN Secretary General, Switzerland, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and the United Kingdom.”
Iranian media reported saturday An unnamed “regional country” helped broker the deal.
A person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told The Washington Post that Iraq played a key role in mediating Iran with its U.S. and British counterparts.
Washington and Tehran severed diplomatic ties shortly after the 1979 revolution brought Iran’s ruling cleric to power.
But the two countries have recently been engaged in now-stalemate indirect talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Washington pulled out of in 2018. Iran has frozen billions of assets in global banks due to Western sanctions. Restoring the deal would include the U.S. sanctions relief needed to revive Iran’s crumbling economy.
Reports in Iranian state media have highlighted that the release of the Namazis coincides with a lack of progress on the nuclear deal.
The young Namazi, a businessman, was arrested while visiting Iran in 2015 and held at the notorious Evan prison. In 2016, an Iranian court found him guilty of espionage, a charge he denies.
Namazi is on vacation for a week, during which he will be with his family, family lawyer Jared Genser, told Reuters. It’s unclear if furloughs will be extended.
In 2016, former UN official Namaz Sr. traveled to Iran to request the release of his son. He was subsequently detained and sentenced to “cooperating with a hostile government”. Authorities released him from prison in 2018 due to health conditions and closed the case in 2020, although he remains under a travel ban.
“The Secretary-General is grateful that our former colleague Bakr Namazi was allowed to leave Iran for treatment abroad following his appeal to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres. in a statement Saturday.
“This is a critical first step, but of course we will not rest until the entire family can return to the United States and their long nightmare is finally over,” Genser, the family attorney, told Reuters.
The former political prisoner described torture, torture and forced confessions in prison for espionage and other crimes.
Iran has falsely accused a “foreign enemy” of fueling more than two weeks of nationwide anti-government protests sparked last month by the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody. Authorities said on Friday they had arrested nine European citizens for their roles in the protests, a move that could heighten tensions with the West.
U.S., European and U.N. officials have condemned Iran’s crackdown on demonstrators, which included the use of live ammunition and cutting off Internet access. At least 52 protesters were killed and hundreds injured and arrested, according to London-based Amnesty International.
The demonstrations, which pulled people from different racial, geographic and class groups, were the largest unrest since a wave of protests over economic discontent in 2019.
In a separate case, Venezuela, another U.S. adversary, said on Saturday it had released seven Americans held for nearly five years. The detainees, including five oil company executives, have been exchanged for the two nephews of President Nicolas Maduro’s wife, who are jailed in the United States for drug smuggling.
John Hudson contributed reporting from Washington; Mustafa Salim contributed reporting from Baghdad.