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Iran claims US prisoner swap deal near, White House denies

There are at least four Americans detained in Iranian prisons on espionage charges


Iran's top diplomat claimed on Sunday that a prisoner swap was near with the US, though he offered no evidence to support his assertion. However, the United States denied the claim.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has made similar comments in the past about possible deals with the US on frozen assets abroad and other issues that never came to fruition.

Some of those remarks have appeared aimed at shoring up domestic support amid the mass protests challenging Iran's theocracy and supporting the country's troubled rial currency.

However, in an interview on Sunday with Iranian state television, Amirabdollahian claimed that Iran had reached an agreement in recent days regarding the exchange of prisoners between Iran and the United States.

“If everything goes well on the American's side, I think we will see the exchange of prisoners in the short term,” he added. He alleged a document between Iran and the US laying out the exchange had been indirectly signed and approved since March 2022.

Iran long has taken prisoners with Western passports or ties to use in negotiations with foreign nations.

As of right now, there are at least four American citizens known to be held in Iranian prisons on widely disputed espionage charges. The evidence against them has never been made public. The detainees all have dual US-Iranian citizenship, something Tehran does not recognize.

In recent days, however, longtime Iranian-American detainee Siamak Namazi was allowed to conduct an interview with CNN from Tehran's notorious Evin prison something that would not have happened without the acquiescence of security forces.

Meanwhile, Ali Bagheri Kani, a deputy Iranian foreign minister who has handled nuclear talks with world powers, made a trip Sunday to Oman, a longtime interlocutor between Tehran and Washington.

Amirabdollahian's comments also come after Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Chinese mediation, announced Friday they would reestablish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies after a seven-year freeze in relations.

However, the US has denied such claims. A White House official denied the Iranian statements and said the US was committed to securing the release of American citizens in Iran, Reuters reported. The publication, quoting the official said, “Claims by Iranian officials that we have reached a deal for

the release of the US citizens wrongfully held by Iran are false. Unfortunately, Iranian officials will not hesitate to make things up, and the latest cruel claim will cause more heartache

for the families of Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz.”

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