A plane transporting five individuals, identified by the Biden administration as U.S. citizens, landed in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just south of Washington D.C., on Tuesday morning, as reported by CBS News.
A Big Trade for Five Americans
These five Americans were released from Iran on the preceding day in exchange for five Iranians held prisoner in the United States and the unfreezing of $6 billion of Iran’s assets held in a South Korean bank.
The Passengers on Board
Among the passengers on the plane, three were identified as Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz, all of whom had been sentenced by Iran to 10 years in prison on espionage charges.
Some Wanted to Remain Anonymous
The report noted that two individuals involved in the exchange, including a female former U.N. worker, were not identified, and U.S. officials indicated that they wished to remain anonymous.
Five Families Will Be Whole Again
In a Sunday briefing, a White House official remarked, “The president is making five families whole again.”
It Took Months of Negotiations
The prisoner exchange between Iran and the United States was the result of months of negotiations.
Unfreezing $6 Billion in Assets
Along with the detainee swap, the United States agreed to repatriate nearly $6 billion in Iranian assets frozen in a South Korean bank due to U.S. sanctions.
Can Only Be Used for Humanitarian Reasons
Under the terms of the agreement, the funds were to be deposited in a Qatar bank, with the stipulation that Iran could only use the money for humanitarian purposes such as food and medicine.
The Transfer Between Banks
The South Korean bank reportedly transferred the money to a Swiss bank, which subsequently sent it to a bank in Doha, Qatar.
The Prisoners Flew Back on Monday
Once the $6 billion had been deposited in Qatar, Iran flew the U.S. prisoners to Doha on Monday.
A Warm Welcome From the Ambassador
Upon their arrival in Qatar, the five Americans received a warm welcome from U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Timmy Davis. Namazi, Emad Sharghi, and Morad Tahbaz embraced the ambassador and others present.
Landed Stateside a Day Later
The flight from Qatar landed in Virginia on Tuesday morning.
‘I Want to Lay Back on the Grass’
One of the released individuals, Mr. Namazi, expressed his longing for freedom, saying, “I want to see foliage instead of walls and wardens.
I want to lay back on the grass, with the warm sun on my face, and gaze up at the open blue skies.”
He Wants to Replace His Phone
He also mentioned his desire to visit an Apple Store to replace the devices confiscated during his captivity.
Two People Wanted to Be Anonymous
President Joe Biden acknowledged the exchange in a statement, highlighting that two of the Americans have opted to keep their identities private.
What Happened to the 6th American?
He also called on the Iranian regime to provide a full account of the fate of Bob Levinson, an American who did not return and whose family seeks answers.
Iranians Don’t Pose a Threat
The Biden administration asserted that the Iranians released in this exchange do not pose a threat to U.S. national security.
Building Trust Between Nations
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, who was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, characterized the exchange as “a step in the direction of a humanitarian action between us and America” and expressed hope that it would contribute to building trust.
The Two Iranians Being Sent Back Home
Two of the Iranians who returned to Iran were identified as Mehrdad Ansari and Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani.
Mr. Ansari was sentenced in the U.S. in 2021 for acquiring equipment with potential military applications, while Mr. Kafrani faced charges related to alleged unlawful exports to Iran.
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The post Controversial Prisoner Swap – U.S. Citizens Freed from Iranian Prisons in Exchange for Iranian Detainees and $6 Billion – A Risky Bargain or a Path to Diplomacy? first appeared on Wealthy Living.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrew Angelov. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.