Iran-US prisoner swap: Who are the detainees being released?


U.S. government frequently refrain from publicizing such cases in hopes of quietly facilitating their release

The exchange agreement between the United States and Iran will result in the liberation of five detainees from each side, while concurrently facilitating the transfer of $6 billion in unfrozen Iranian assets from South Korea.

Here is a list of U.S. citizens incarcerated in Iran who will experience their release as part of the agreement:

Siamak Namazi

Siamak Namazi, aged 51 and holding dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship, was arrested in 2015 by the Revolutionary Guards during a visit to his family in Tehran. A few months later, his ailing father, Baquer Namazi, was also detained upon his return to Iran to see his imprisoned son. Both were sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison on charges of alleged espionage and collaboration with the U.S. government.

Baquer Namazi, a former Iranian provincial governor and a former UNICEF official with dual citizenship, was placed under house arrest in 2018 due to medical reasons. In 2022, he left Iran to seek medical treatment.

Emad Sharghi

In 2017, Sharghi and his wife relocated from the United States to Iran. The Iranian-American businessman, aged 59, encountered his first arrest in 2018 while employed by Saravan Holding, a tech investment company. Following eight months in custody, a Revolutionary Court absolved him of espionage and security-related allegations, although a travel restriction persisted.

In November 2020, he received a summons from a different Revolutionary Court, which subsequently sentenced him to a 10-year prison term on espionage charges. While he initially remained free, Iranian media later reported his arrest in January 2021 as he attempted to leave Iran.

Morad Tahbaz

A 67-year-old environmentalist of Iranian-American descent, who also possesses British citizenship, Tahbaz was arrested in 2018. In 2019, he received a 10-year prison sentence on charges of “conspiring against Iran’s national security” and “communicating with a foreign government, namely the U.S., for espionage purposes.”

The identities of the fourth and fifth detainees have not been disclosed. The exact number of U.S. citizens detained in Iran remains unclear, as both families and the U.S. government frequently refrain from publicizing such cases in hopes of quietly facilitating their release.

Detained Iranians in the United States

According to Iranian authorities, the five Iranians currently in detention in the United States are Mehrdad Moin-Ansari, Kambiz Attar-Kashani, Reza Sarhangpour-Kafrani, Amin Hassanzadeh, and Kaveh Afrasiabi.

Iran’s foreign ministry has confirmed that two of the Iranians to be released under the agreement will remain in the United States, while one will travel to a third country to reunite with their family. The remaining two individuals will return to Iran.

Iran has long sought the release of Iranians detained in the United States, with more than a dozen Iranian prisoners primarily held for alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

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