Iran Lets 4 Americans Leave the Notorious Evin Prison

They join a 5th American who is already under house arrest
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2023 1:14 PM CDT
Iran Lets 4 Americans Leave the Notorious Evin Prison
This January 1987, file photo shows Evin prison in Tehran, Iran.   (AP Photo, File)

Five Americans imprisoned in Iran have been transferred to house arrest, US officials confirmed Thursday. The lawyer for Siamak Namazi, one of five, was restrained in his assessment on whether their freedom is near: "The move by Iran ... is an important development. While I hope this will be the first step to their ultimate release," says Jared Genser, "this is at best the beginning of the end and nothing more. There are simply no guarantees about what happens from here."

But sources tell the New York Times the two countries have, after two years of negotiations, settled on an agreement that will see the five freed in exchange for an unspecified number of Iranians who are jailed in the US for sanctions violations as well as access to some $6 billion of Iranian funds, though the money will be controlled by Qatar and may only be spent on a limited list of humanitarian items, like food and medicine.

The other prisoners include Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz and two people whose names have not been given. One of the unnamed prisoners was already under house arrest, reports the Wall Street Journal, while the other four were on Thursday moved from Evin Prison to a hotel in Tehran. They will reportedly stay there under guard until the money—oil revenue frozen in South Korea—is moved to a Qatari account, which could take as long as six weeks, at which time it's thought they could be flown to Doha, Qatar.

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The AP reports on the named men, all dual US and Iranian nationals: Namazi was detained in 2015 and sentenced to 10 years in prison on "internationally criticized" spying charges; Sharghi, a venture capitalist, was in 2020 sentenced to 10 years in prison, also on spying charges; and Tahbaz, a British American conservationist of Iranian descent, was arrested in 2018 and also handed 10 years for having "contacts with the US government." As for the $6 billion, NBC News explains it's from a 2012 to 2019 period in which the US let South Korea and other countries purchase Iranian oil but didn't allow Iran to have access to the revenue.

(Read more Iran stories.)

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