The United States has officially confirmed the release of five American detainees who were previously held in Iran. They have been transitioned from imprisonment to house arrest as part of a negotiated agreement with Tehran.
The deal involves the unlocking of $6 billion worth of Iranian assets held in South Korea as reported by various Western media outlets.
According to the Iranian state news agency IRNA, Tehran has stated that five Iranians who were detained in the US have also been set free in accordance with an agreement brokered with the involvement of a third party. Additionally, the freeze on Iran’s funds in South Korea will be lifted, and these funds will be transferred to Qatar.
The process of allowing the group of five detainees to leave Iranian territory is expected to unfold over several weeks, as stated by Reuters. The exact details of the finalised agreement concerning the frozen funds in South Korea remain somewhat unclear.
However, the Iranian government’s media outlets have made it explicit that no detainee will depart from Iran until the entirety of the funds in South Korean are transferred to designated accounts in Qatar.
While the White House expressed appreciation for the potential release of American prisoners in Iran, critics have labelled the release of billions of dollars in exchange as the largest ransom ever paid by the US.
In an effort to mitigate the negative perception of this payment as resembling a ransom, the Biden administration has emphasised that the funds will not directly reach the Iranian government. Instead, they will be allocated solely for humanitarian needs. However, the precise mechanisms of this arrangement remain uncertain.
The decision of the Biden administration to provide substantial financial support to the clerical regime in Iran, which is currently grappling with a severe economic crisis, has deeply disappointed Iranian American activists.
Amir Hamidi, a former US government official and political consultant in Washington DC, conveyed his dissatisfaction through a tweet, stating that allocating an astonishing six billion dollars to Iran essentially equates to facilitating the transfer of American hostages to another form of detention – an entirely unacceptable compromise. “We must unwaveringly uphold the principle of not negotiating with terrorists or rewarding hostage-taking,” Hamidi said.
In a recent development, Iran corrected the amount of $6 billion reported by Western media, asserting that the actual sum that was released amounts to $9 billion. This includes nearly $3 billion that had been frozen in Iraqi banks in addition to the $6 billion held in South Korea.
The frozen funds in Iraq were released by Washington back in June, possibly representing an initial concession to Tehran in a series of negotiations that appear to have now concluded.