Who Are the US Detainees Released in Prisoner Swap With Iran?

14:06 18.09.2023 - Voice of America

Here is a look at the detainees released Monday as part of a prisoner swap between the United States and Iran.

Siamak Namazi

Siamak Namazi, 51, was the longest held Iranian American detainee. He was arrested in 2015 and sentenced the following year to 10 years in Tehran's Evin Prison on charges of espionage. Months later, his father was arrested when he visited Iran to check on his son. The elder Namazi was later placed on house arrest and permitted to leave Iran in 2022 due to medical reasons. Namazi is an energy executive who promoted closer ties between the west and Iran.

Emad Sharghi

Emad Sharghi, 59, is an Iranian American venture capitalist who moved to Iran with his wife in 2017. He was detained the following year, but his family says he was released after going through eight months of interrogations. Authorities rearrested Sharghi while he was trying to leave the country while on bail. He was charged with espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Morad Tahbaz

Morad Tahbaz, 67, was also sentenced to 10 years of prison. He is an Iranian American conservationist who also holds British citizenship. In 2018, he was arrested during an Iranian crackdown on environmental activists. Tahbaz had reportedly remained in prison despite an agreement between the United Kingdom and Iran that he be released from prison on furlough.

Two unnamed detainees

Two additional prisoners were released Monday. However, the U.S. government has not released their names at the request of their families.

The Iranians

Five Iranians charged or convicted of nonviolent crimes in the United States received clemency under the deal:

Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi
Mehrdad Ansari
Amin Hasanzadeh
Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani
Kambiz Attar Kashani

Some information for this story came from the Associated Press and Reuters.

/ Monday, September 18, 2023, 2:06 PM /

Who Are the Detainees Released by the U.S. and Iran?

Five Iranian Americans detained by Iran were allowed to leave the country on Monday, according to Iranian and White House officials, after an agreement was reached to free them in return for the dismissal of federal charges against five imprisoned Iranians and the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian assets.

The Americans took off in a plane from Tehran just before 9 a.m. Eastern time and were expected to fly to Doha, the capital of Qatar. Officials said that they would be given brief medical checkups before flying to Washington on a U.S. government plane. Several of the Iranian American prisoners, who hold dual citizenship, had been moved from the notorious Evin prison to a hotel last month, according to officials at the State Department and the National Security Council.

The U.S. government had deemed the five wrongfully detained. Their release comes after more than two years of quiet negotiations between Washington and Tehran.

Here's what we know about the detainees who left Iran:

Siamak Namazi

Siamak Namazi, 51, an Iranian American businessman, has become the American citizen that Iran has acknowledged imprisoning for the longest amount of time. He flew to Iran from his home in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, in the summer of 2015 to visit his parents and attend a funeral, but was charged with "collaborating with a hostile government" - a reference to the United States.

The Iranian authorities later arrested Mr. Namazi's father, Baquer Namazi, a senior retired U.N. official, when he visited Iran to check on his son. But the elder Mr. Namazi was allowed to leave Iran for health reasons last October after being under house arrest.

In January, Siamak Namazi begun a hunger strike in a direct appeal to President Biden to negotiate for his release.

 ..... , 59, also a dual Iranian American citizen and businessman, moved to Iran in 2017 with his wife, Bahareh Amidi Shargi, after their daughters left for college. The couple wanted to reconnect with the language and the culture of a place they had both left as children, and Mr. Sharghi started working for an Iranian venture capital fund.

A partner at a company in Abu Dhabi leasing and selling private airplanes, Mr. Sharghi had explored business opportunities with Iranian start-ups.

Mr. Sharghi was arrested in 2018 and released after an eight-month detention, but he was not allowed to leave Iran. When he tried to flee the country illegally in 2020 he was captured and sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of collaboration with an enemy state.

 ..... , 67, an Iranian American businessman who also holds British citizenship, is a wildlife conservationist who co-founded the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of endangered animals in Iran.

In 2018, he was arrested along with eight other employees of the organization on charges of "contacts with the U.S. government" and sentenced to 10 years in prison. His wife, Vida, also a U.S. citizen, was in Iran at the time of his detention and was barred from leaving the country. She is on a plane with him leaving Iran.

During his imprisonment, Mr. Tahbaz has suffered from prostate cancer and contracted Covid-19 three times, his daughter Tara said in an interview with Reuters in April.

On Monday, the family said in a statement that they were "overjoyed and relieved" that Mr. Tahbaz and his wife were on their way home. The family will focus on the couple's health and the "path to recovery of these lost years," they said.


The two other detainees have remained unnamed at the request of their families, the U.S. government has said. One is a scientist and businessman from California, detained nearly a year ago. The other is a woman who worked for humanitarian aid groups in Afghanistan and was arrested in 2023. Her detention delayed the U.S.-Iran prisoner deal when the United States said that all American citizens must be included in the swap, according to people familiar with the deal and Iranian media reports.


As part of the deal, the U.S. authorities will drop charges against five Iranian nationals - although only some of them were held in American jails.

According U.S. officials, three of the five Iranians declined to return to the country. One of them will join his family in a third country and two will remain in the United States, the Iranian foreign ministry said.

Here is what we know about them:

Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi

According to the Justice Department,Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, 65, a political scientist and author, was arrested in 2021 at his home in Watertown, Mass., on charges of acting as an unregistered agent of the Iranian government. Mr. Afrasiabi had portrayed himself as an objective, neutral expert on Iran to Congress, journalists and the American public, while being a secret employee of the government of Iran, John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement at the time. At the time of the agreement, he was awaiting trial and had said publicly that he did not plan to return to Iran.

Mehrdad Ansari

Mehrdad Ansari, 42, was convicted in 2021 and sentenced to 63 months in prison for his part in a plan to "obtain military sensitive parts" for Iran in a violation of the Iranian trade embargo. The Justice Department said the equipment could have been used to test systems including nuclear weapons, missile guidance and offensive electronic warfare.

Kambiz Attar Kashani

Kambiz Attar Kashani, an Iranian American dual citizen, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in February 2023 for conspiring to illegally export U.S. goods and technology to users including the Central Bank of Iran, an entity that supports organizations that the United States has designated as terrorist groups. Mr. Kashani provided the central bank and others with U.S. electronic equipment and software that "enabled the Iranian banking system to operate more efficiently, effectively and securely," the Justice Department said, using two companies in the United Arab Emirates as a front.

Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani

Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani, 48, an Iranian and Canadian national, was charged with exporting lab equipment to Iran in 2021. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Mr. Kafrani failed to get a license to export some of the laboratory material, which is controlled for nuclear nonproliferation reasons.

Mr. Kafrani exported the material through Canada and the United Arab Emirates, and was indicted by a U.S. grand jury on several counts, including conspiracy and money laundering, the Justice Department said in a statement at the time.

Amin Hasanzadeh

Amin Hasanzadeh, 46, an Iranian national, had been working as a hardware engineer in Michigan and was charged in 2019 with stealing confidential documents and technical data from his employer. According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Michigan, Mr. Hasanzadeh emailed sensitive documents to his brother, Sina Hasanzadeh, who had connections with Iranian companies "of proliferation concern," including the Basamad Azma Company, which researchers have linked to Iran's cruise missile research.

Mr. Hasanzadeh had also worked as a research faculty member at Florida State University and conducted research at a lab at the University of Maryland, according to the complaint, which said that an investigation found that he had served in the Iranian military - information that he concealed on immigration documents, prosecutors alleged.

US and Iran Swap Detainees: Unveiling the Released Prisoners

Five Iranian Americans who were detained in Iran have been allowed to leave the country as part of a prisoner swap agreement, according to Iranian and White House officials. The release of the detainees was negotiated in exchange for the dismissal of federal charges against five imprisoned Iranians and the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian assets. ..... S. government plane after receiving medical checkups.

The release of the detainees comes after more than two years of quiet negotiations between the United States and Iran. The U. ..... 

One of the detainees, Siamak Namazi, 51, is an Iranian American businessman who had been imprisoned in Iran for the longest amount of time. ..... N. official, was also arrested when he visited Iran to check on his son but was allowed to leave last October due to health reasons. ..... 

Another detainee, Emad Sharghi, 59, is a dual Iranian American citizen and businessman who moved to Iran in 2017 with his wife to reconnect with the language and culture of their childhood. Sharghi had been working for an Iranian venture capital fund and exploring business opportunities with Iranian start-ups. He was initially detained in 2018 but released after eight months. ..... Tahbaz has suffered from prostate cancer and contracted Covid-19 three times during his imprisonment.

 ..... S.-Iran prisoner deal as the United States insisted that all American citizens be included in the swap.

In exchange for the release of the five Iranian Americans, the U. ..... 

The families of the detainees expressed their joy and relief at their release and stated that they would focus on their health and the path to recovery after these lost years. The prisoner swap marks a significant development in the ongoing diplomatic efforts between the United States and Iran.

Who are the five American prisoners freed in the Iran-US prisoner swap?

Five US citizens have been flown out of Iran as part of a widely anticipated prisoner swap deal between Washington and Tehran, a United States official confirmed.

A senior official in US President Joe Biden's administration told reporters on Monday that five freed Americans and two of their US family members were en route to the Qatari capital, Doha.

The White House has named three of the prisoners, who were released to house arrest in advance of the swap, as Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz.

The families of the two others have withheld their identities, but they are said to be a scientist and a businessman. Western media outlets also have reported that one is a woman.

Here's what we know about the Americans being released as part of the deal:

Iran frees British climate activist in $6bn US prisoner swap deal

Washington accused of paying ransom as five detainees from each side are released.

A British environmentalist held hostage in Iran is among five prisoners who have been released in a $6bn swap deal with the United States.

Morad Tahbaz, who holds British, American and Iranian citizenship, was among the prisoners flown out of Iran on Monday afternoon, following weeks of negotiation between Washington and Tehran.

London-born Mr Tahbaz, 67, was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of "assembly and collusion against Iran's national security" while working as a climate activist.

His imprisonment has become a major diplomatic dispute between Iran and the UK, and has featured in negotiations between the governments over the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Roxanne Tahbaz, his daughter, has campaigned in Britain for ministers to do more to secure his release, including at protests outside the Foreign Office.

But Mr Tahbaz was left in Iran when Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and another British-Iranian dual national, Anoosheh Ashoori, were released in a deal negotiated by Liz Truss, when she was Foreign Secretary.

Five Americans land in Doha after release in US-Iran prisoner swap

A plane carrying five American prisoners released by Iran as part of a high-profile prisoner exchange has landed in the Qatari capital Doha, before the former detainees are expected to then fly on to the United States.

The former detainees walked off the plane on Monday onto the tarmac at Doha International Airport after arriving from Tehran. They were greeted by both US and Qatari officials.

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from the airport, said that the former prisoners were not expected to spend long in Qatar, and would soon be on their way home to the US.

"There's a visible sense of actual relief," Khan said. "Its all smiles now."

Two of the five Iranians imprisoned by the US have already arrived in the Gulf state, before they transit on to Iran. The three other released Iranians have decided against returning to Iran, with two staying in the US, and one going on to a third country.

The agreement between the US and Iran has also seen $6bn in Iranian assets held in South Korea unfrozen, triggering the prisoner exchange.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the return of the five citizens and thanked allies for helping secure their release.

"Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Sharghi, and two citizens who wish to remain private will soon be reunited with their loved ones - after
enduring years of agony, uncertainty, and suffering," Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

"I am grateful to our partners at home and abroad for their tireless efforts to help us achieve this outcome, including the governments of
Qatar, Oman, Switzerland, and South Korea."

Biden also reminded US citizens about the risk of travelling to Iran and said Washington could not guarantee their freedom should they be detained.

"American passport holders should not travel there," he said.

The White House has come under criticism from Republicans and some Democrats for striking the prisoner exchange deal with Tehran, saying that it could lead to further detentions.

Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett says the Biden administration has repeatedly said freeing US citizens imprisoned abroad is a top priority of his presidency.

"Anyone who has a family member in detention would want to see their family member brought home, and that is his top priority. That was the opportunity that was in front of him and so he seized it," Halkett added.

This is a developing story, more to follow.

Iran, US Complete Prisoner Swap

The United States and Iran on Monday carried out a high-stakes prisoner swap that included freeing five Americans the U.S. government says were unjustly detained by the Tehran government.

Three of the Americans in the swap were identified as Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz, who along with the other two Americans were under house arrest pending their release. The identity of the other two individuals remained private at their families' request.

U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement the five individuals would "soon be reunited with their loved ones-after enduring years of agony, uncertainty, and suffering." He thanked the governments of Qatar, Oman, South Korea and Switzerland "for their tireless efforts to help us achieve this outcome."

Senior Biden administration officials told reporters the logistics of the swap involved a Qatari plane traveling from Iran to Doha carrying the five freed Americans, accompanied on the flight by Namazi's mother and Tahbaz's wife, who had been prevented from leaving Iran.

The White House said Biden had an emotional call with the families of the seven returning Americans and that all who joined the call spoke with the president.

From Doha, the group headed to Washington to be reunited with their families. The officials said all would have access to recovery and reintegration services offered by the U.S. Defense Department.

US citizens Siamak Namazi (R-back), Emad Sharqi (L) and Morad Tahbaz (C) disembark from a Qatari jet upon their arrival at the Doha International Airport in Doha on Sept. 18, 2023.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration, in its 2? years in office, has now secured the release of more than 30 wrongfully detained Americans around the world and is working to free others.

The agreement included the United States allowing $6 billion in Iranian funds frozen under U.S. sanctions to be transferred from accounts in South Korea to accounts in Qatar.

The funds are designated for use only for Iranian humanitarian purposes, such as food, medicine and agricultural products.

The Biden administration officials told reporters the system is set up in a way that they are very confident the threat of the money being diverted for other purposes is very low, and if there is a diversion, the accounts will be locked up.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and some U.S. conservative lawmakers criticized Biden for agreeing to the deal, contending the release of the $6 billion amounted to a ransom for the hostages and that the money would allow Iran to help develop its nuclear weapons system and not be used for humanitarian purposes.

Trump lashed out at Biden last week on Trump's Truth Social media site, saying the deal sets a "TERRIBLE precedent."

Senator John Thune said on Facebook that the "the U.S. should be unrelenting in its efforts to bring detained Americans home, but Iran will now count pallets of ransom money, putting its leaders in a better position to develop a nuclear weapon and fund terrorists. And the price to release U.S. hostages will only go up."

 ..... S. is not giving Iran any money.

"This isn't a payment of any kind. These aren't U.S. dollars. They aren't taxpayer dollars, they are Iranian dollars the [Trump] administration allowed them to make" in oil sales to other countries, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

 ..... S. clemency. They were identified as Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, Mehrdad Ansari, Amin Hasanzadeh, Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani and Kambiz Attar Kashani.

The Biden administration officials said the Iranians who lacked legal status in the United States would return to Iran through Doha.

Ansari and Kafrani have no legal U.S. status. Afrasiabi and Hasanzadeh are permanent U.S. residents, while Kashani is an Iranian-American dual national.

Ansari and Kashani were serving federal prison sentences, while Afrasiabi, Hasanzadeh and Kafrani were on supervised pre-trial release.

The officials said in addition to the prisoner swap, the United States is issuing new sanctions under the Levinson Act as it calls on Iran to give a full account of what happened to Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran under mysterious circumstances in 2007 and is presumed dead.

Biden said, "The Levinson family deserves answers. Today, we are sanctioning former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence under the Levinson Act for their involvement in wrongful detentions. And we will continue to impose costs on Iran for their provocative actions in the region."

The U.S. leader also issued a new warning to Americans to not travel to Iran. He said Americans who go to Iran and are arbitrarily arrested and detained should "have no expectation that their release can be secured."

Iran releases 5 Americans in prisoner swap

Five U.S. citizens detained by Iran were freed Monday in a high-stakes, complex diplomatic deal brokered between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Biden administration that included the transfer of $6 billion in unfrozen Iranian oil assets and the release of five Iranians facing charges in the U.S. ..... S. and land in the Washington, D.C., area Monday night.

The American prisoners include Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz, who had all been sentenced to 10 years in prison on unsubstantiated charges of spying. Two Americans involved in the agreement - including one female former U.N. worker - wished to remain anonymous, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. citizens were on a flight from Tehran to Doha, Qatar, White House officials confirmed to CBS News. They were then to be transferred to U.S. custody and put on a plane bound for the Washington, D.C., area, where they will be reunited with their families, senior administration officials said. Sources familiar with the planning said the Americans were expected to be given U.S. government cellphones to call their families to share the news of their freedom before their arrival.

Namazi, a 51-year-old businessman, was the longest-held detainee, having been arrested in 2015 and left behind by both the Obama and Trump administrations in past prisoner swaps.

Shargi, a businessman and Washington, D.C., resident, and Tahbaz, a U.K.-U.S. national and environmentalist, were both detained in 2018.

Also on the flight were Namazi's mother, Effie Namazi, and Tahbaz's wife, Vida Tahbaz - both of whom had previously been unable to leave Iran, according to senior administration officials.

Upon returning to the U.S., the Americans will be given the option of going through a support process at a military hospital at Fort Belvoir in Virginia to prepare for their re-entry following captivity.

Because the U.S. has not had official ties with Iran since 1979, the Americans were escorted to the Qatari plane by the Swiss ambassador to Tehran, Nadine Olivier. She has helped monitor the Americans' well-being since they were moved from Evin prison to house arrest in August following the Biden administration's agreement in principle to the swap.

Ahead of the swap, senior administration officials did not share details about the health conditions of the Americans, but noted the Swiss have said the Iranians complied with the agreed-upon living conditions for their house arrest. Olivier acted as the Biden administration's eyes and ears on the ground, confirming to State Department officials that the Americans were on board the flight.

Switzerland and Qatar have acted as go-betweens for the U.S. and Iran since the minimal diplomatic contact between the two nations established as part of the 2015 landmark nuclear accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was severed when the Trump administration exited the agreement in 2018. Despite a campaign pledge to revive the accord, the Biden administration's attempts have failed. Iran's nuclear development has continued.

Distrust between Washington and Tehran, even amid the swap, is high. The Biden administration agreed to help Iran gain access to $6 billion in Iranian oil assets that had been held in a restricted account in South Korea as incentive for Tehran to conduct the swap. Sources familiar with the complex diplomatic deal told CBS News that the billions in oil revenue were being transferred through European banks in the form of euros to a restricted account in Qatar as late as Sunday.

"We hope to see the complete repossession of assets by the Islamic Republic of Iran today and that it will all be transferred to Iran's account in a friendly country in the region," Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani announced on Monday. "The government of Iran should have complete access to it, to use according to its need."

The plan was to have the U.S. Treasury block Tehran from accessing the funds until the Americans departed Iranian airspace. The Biden administration has repeatedly said the U.S. Treasury will continue to monitor the account in Qatar and restrict the use of funds for solely humanitarian purposes.

The Biden administration briefed Congress in advance of the trade, but Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, indicated the information offered to his staff was not sufficient for him to defend the administration's deal.

"Obviously, money is fungible," Warner told "Face the Nation." "The administration have said there are guardrails. I want to get a better description of those guardrails first."

The Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, is concerned that any financial relief will incentivize future hostage taking.

"Whenever you put a price on American heads, you get an incentive for people to take more hostages," Turner told "Face the Nation." He dismissed the Biden administration's argument that the funds would be restricted.

Senior administration officials reiterated Sunday night that the funds are "severely restricted" and are being funneled through trusted banks with the "full cooperation" of the Qatari government.

"This is not a payment of any kind," a senior administration official said Sunday night.

The money, which was paid by South Korea to Iran years ago for oil and subsequently frozen, is only to be used for humanitarian purposes and is limited to food, medicine, medical devices and agricultural products, a senior administration official said. They stressed that it is not U.S. taxpayer money and no funds will go directly to Iranian companies or entities. If Iran tries to divert the money, the U.S. will take action to "lock up" the funds, the official said.

In addition to those billions, President Biden agreed to grant clemency to five Iranians who were facing charges in the U.S. Iran identified its citizens as Mehrdad Meoin Ansari, indicted in 2011 and convicted in 2021 for violating economic sanctions with Iran; Michigan resident Amin Hasanzadeh, accused of stealing confidential documents from his employer; Kambiz Attar-Kashani, a dual U.S. and Iranian citizen who was convicted of conspiring to illegally export goods and technology to Iran; Canadian resident Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani, who is accused of illegally exporting laboratory equipment through Canada and the United Arab Emirates; and Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, a scholar and a U.S. permanent resident living in Massachusetts who was charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the Iranian government.

The U.S. has not confirmed the identities of the Iranians being released, but administration officials noted they were all accused of non-violent crimes. Officials also said the prison sentences of the two Iranians who had been convicted were almost over.

Afrasiabi told CBS News that he would not return to Tehran, but would instead remain in the U.S. Administration officials said they anticipate two of the Iranians who don't have legal status in the U.S. will return to Iran through Doha.

A senior administration official said the deal "does not change our relationship with Iran in any way. Iran is an adversary and a state sponsor of terrorism. We will hold them accountable wherever possible."

The Biden administration will also announce new sanctions Monday against Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But the swap ends a prolonged trauma for the families of the formerly detained Americans. It is also likely to reignite the political debate over whether the previously announced trade benefits the heavily sanctioned Iranian regime, and, in turn, incentivizes further hostage-taking.

A senior administration official said Sunday night, "We obviously are not at all confident the practice [of taking hostages] will end," and warned Americans that traveling to Iran is "an extremely high-risk endeavor."

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is scheduled to arrive in New York this week to address the U.N. General Assembly, which Mr. Biden is also scheduled to attend.

Olivia Gazis, Kristin Brown and Bo Erickson contributed to this report.

Iran Frees 5 Americans in Historic Prisoner Exchange

In a significant diplomatic breakthrough, the United States and Iran conducted a high-stakes prisoner swap on Monday, resulting in the release of five Americans who were unjustly detained by the Iranian government. Among the freed Americans were Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz, who, along with two other individuals, had been under house arrest pending their release. ..... 

President Joe Biden expressed his relief and gratitude in a statement, acknowledging the years of suffering and uncertainty endured by the prisoners and their families. ..... 

The logistics of the swap involved a Qatari plane traveling from Iran to Doha, carrying the five freed Americans. Accompanying them on the flight were Namazi's mother and Tahbaz's wife, who had been prevented from leaving Iran. From Doha, the group proceeded to Washington, where they were reunited with their families. The US Defense Department has offered them access to recovery and reintegration services to aid in their transition back to normal life.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted the Biden administration's success in securing the release of more than 30 wrongfully detained Americans worldwide since taking office. The prisoner swap was part of a broader agreement that included the transfer of $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar. The funds are earmarked exclusively for humanitarian purposes, such as food, medicine, and agricultural products, and strict measures are in place to prevent their diversion.

However, former President Donald Trump and conservative lawmakers criticized the deal, arguing that the release of the funds amounted to a ransom payment and could potentially support Iran's nuclear weapons program and terrorist activities. Trump took to his Truth Social media platform to denounce the agreement, emphasizing the "terrible precedent" it sets. Senator John Thune echoed these concerns on Facebook, warning that the release of the hostages would only encourage Iran and increase the price for future releases.

In response, the White House clarified that the funds being transferred to Iran were not US dollars or taxpayer dollars but were Iranian assets frozen under previous US sanctions. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson emphasized that the payment was not a form of compensation but rather the release of Iranian funds generated from oil sales to other countries.

As part of the prisoner swap, five Iranians facing charges in the US were granted clemency. ..... These individuals had been charged or convicted of nonviolent crimes in the US. ..... 

President Biden also issued a warning to Americans against traveling to Iran, cautioning that those who are arbitrarily arrested and detained should not expect their release to be secured. This statement reflects the ongoing tension and distrust between the two nations, despite the successful prisoner swap.

The release of the American prisoners represents a significant achievement for the Biden administration, but it has also sparked debate and criticism regarding the handling of the $6 billion transfer and the potential implications for future hostage situations. The administration maintains that the funds are strictly monitored and restricted to humanitarian purposes, with safeguards in place to prevent any diversion.

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