In a welcome turn of events, Iran has released five individuals with dual US-Iranian nationality into house arrest, according to US officials. The released detainees include Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz (who also holds a British passport), and an unidentified fourth person. An additional US national had previously been released, as confirmed by a US national security official.
Delicate negotiations between Iran and the United States facilitated the release of these individuals, representing a promising step forward. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson commended the move but emphasized that these citizens should never have been detained in the first place. “Of course, we will not rest until they are all back home in the United States,” Watson stated with determination.
Iran’s mission to the UN corroborated the release of dual nationals from Tehran’s Evin prison, as reported by state media. The process was facilitated by a third country’s mediation, leading to the unlocking and transfer of frozen funds from South Korea to Qatar, as outlined by Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
Notably, the frozen Iranian funds in South Korea amount to approximately $6 billion (£4.7 billion), according to sources. The release of these detained individuals marks a step towards alleviating the tension between the nations.
Babak Namazi, the brother of Siamak Namazi, expressed cautious optimism, stating that while the developments are positive, their ultimate goal remains the return of their loved ones to the United States. Siamak Namazi, who is 51 years old, had been arrested in 2015 and was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison on security-related charges.
Mr. Shargi, 58, detained since April 2018, received the support of his sister, who expressed confidence in President Biden’s efforts and the dedication of government officials to secure his release.
Morad Tahbaz, a 67-year-old businessman and wildlife conservationist, was among those released. He had been apprehended during a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018.
Iran’s practice of detaining and imprisoning dual nationals on national security charges has raised concerns internationally. The US State Department noted that two of the released individuals wish to maintain their privacy, emphasizing the importance of monitoring their health and well-being.
While this development offers a glimmer of hope, the focus remains on ensuring the safe return of all detainees to their homes, as diplomatic efforts continue to address the larger issues at hand.