Tensions rise between US and Iran over prisoner exchange

US and Iran in dispute over alleged prisoner exchange agreement

Tensions rise between US and Iran over prisoner exchange

The US government has accused Iran of spreading “cruel” false claims of a prisoner exchange. Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, recently informed state media that the two countries had reached a deal that would likely be executed soon. However, a White House security spokesperson denied this, accusing Iranian officials of fabricating the news. The false claim has caused distress among the families of affected individuals.

Although the US spokesperson denied the agreement, the US government remains committed to securing the release of Americans held in Iran. These individuals include Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz.

Namazi, a dual US-Iranian citizen, was imprisoned for 10 years on charges of spying and cooperating with the US government in 2016. Shargi is an Iranian-American businessman who was arrested in 2018, while working for a tech investment company.

Tahbaz, an Iranian-American environmentalist who also holds British citizenship, was given a 10-year sentence for charges of spying for the US and undermining Iranian security in 2019.

Tehran has detained several US-Iranian dual citizens and Iranians with US permanent residency in recent years, most of them on spying charges.

Iran has sought the release of more than a dozen Iranians held in the United States for years, including seven Iranian-American dual nationals, two Iranians with permanent US residency, and four Iranian citizens with no legal status in the United States.

In 2019, the two countries conducted a prisoner swap that saw Chinese-American researcher Xiyue Wang released to the US while stem cell expert Massoud Soleimani went in the other direction.

The US and Iran have had strained relations in recent years since President Donald Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions that severely damaged the Islamic Republic’s economy.

While Iran has been seeking the release of its citizens held in US custody, the US has also been working to secure the release of its own nationals held in Iran.

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