HomeUS News updateIran claims prisoner swap with U.S.; U.S. calls it ‘cruel lie’

Iran claims prisoner swap with U.S.; U.S. calls it ‘cruel lie’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran’s top diplomat claimed on Sunday that a prisoner swap with the US was imminent, although he offered no evidence to back up his claim. The US immediately dismissed his comments as “brutal lies”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabadolhian has made similar comments in the past about possible deals with the US on assets stashed abroad and other issues that never came to fruition. Some of those comments were aimed at garnering domestic support amid mass protests challenging Iran’s democracy and supporting the country’s troubled rial currency.

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

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirbadollahian in Beirut, Lebanon, January 13, 2023.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirbadollahian in Beirut, Lebanon, on January 13.Bilal Hussain/AP File

“If all goes well on the US side, I think we will see a prisoner exchange in the short term,” he said. He alleged that the document exchanged between Iran and the US from March 2022 was “indirectly signed and approved”.

Reached by The Associated Press, US State Department spokesman Ned Price called the comments “another particularly cruel lie that only adds to the suffering of their families.”

“We continue to work to secure the release of three Americans who have been wrongfully detained in Iran,” Price said. “We will not stop until they are reunited with their loved ones.”

A separate statement from the White House’s National Security Council also called the remarks “false”.

“Unfortunately, the Iranian authorities will not hesitate to make things worse, and the latest brutal claim will cause more grief for the families of Siamak Namazi, Imad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz,” the council said.

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

As of now, at least three US citizens are languishing in Iranian prisons on widely disputed espionage charges.

The evidence against him was never made public. The detainees hold dual US-Iranian citizenship, which Tehran does not recognize.

In recent days, however, Siamak Namazi, a long-time Iranian American detainee, was allowed to conduct an interview with CNN from Tehran’s infamous Evin prison – something that would not have happened without the consent of security forces.

Meanwhile, Ali Bagheri Kani, a deputy Iranian foreign minister handling nuclear talks with world powers, traveled on Sunday to Oman, a longtime interlocutor between Tehran and Washington.

Amirabdollahian’s comments with Chinese mediation also came after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced on Friday they would re-establish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies after a seven-year freeze in ties.



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