Americans jailed in Iran expected to fly home in prisoner swap deal

Sep 18: Five American citizens jailed for years in Iran are expected to fly back to the US today as part of a prisoner swap.

The four men and one woman, who also hold Iranian passports, are set to board a plane in the Iranian capital Tehran.

Their release is dependent on the transfer of $6bn (£4.8bn) in Iranian funds, earned from selling oil to South Korea, to banks in Doha - which is now said to have been completed.

Five Iranians imprisoned in the US are expected to be freed at the same time as part of the swap, which was mediated by Qatar.

Washington says the planned swap includes Siamak Namazi, who was detained in 2015 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison on internationally criticised spying charges.

The deal also includes Emad Sharghi, a venture capitalist sentenced to 10 years and Morad Tahbaz, as well as a British-American conservationist of Iranian descent who was arrested in 2018 and also received a 10-year sentence.

US officials have so far declined to identify the fourth and fifth prisoners.

US President Joe Biden has long been urged to bring home Americans who have widely been seen as hostages used by Iran as bargaining chips.

But the swap is being condemned by leading US Republicans and Iranian activists who say it will only encourage them to take more hostages.


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