US Department of State Denies Iran’s Claims of Prisoner Exchange
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian claimed Sunday that a prisoner swap with America was “imminent,” although he offered no evidence to back up his statement. However, America immediately dismissed the statement as a “cruel lie.”
Amirabdollahian has made similar statements in the past about a possible deal with America regarding frozen assets abroad, as well as other matters which never came to fruition. Part of the statement appeared to be aimed at bolstering support at home amid widespread demonstrations against the Iranian theocracy and at the same time supporting the rial’s continued depreciation.
In an interview with state television Sunday, Amirabdollahian said Iran “in the last few days reached an agreement with America on a prisoner swap.”
He added, “If all goes well on the American side, I think we’ll see a prisoner swap in the short term.” He claimed that the document between Iran and America governing the exchange of prisoners “was signed and indirectly agreed” since March 2022.
US Department of State Denies
State Department spokesman Ned Price told the Associated Press that Tehran’s remarks were “another vicious lie that only adds to the suffering of their families.”
He stressed that “we (the Americans) are working tirelessly to secure the release of three Americans who were unlawfully detained in Iran. We will not rest until they are reunited with their loved ones.”
Separately the White House National Security Council also called Amirabdollahian’s remarks “false.” “Unfortunately Iranian officials will not hesitate to fabricate, and latest atrocious claims that will cause even more heartache to the families of Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz,” he added.
Iran Often Detains Western Citizens
Iran has long detained citizens with passports or ties to the West, for use in negotiations with foreign countries. To date, at least three American citizens are known to be held in Iranian prisons on espionage charges which are still widely debated. Evidence against them was never published. All of these detainees have dual citizenship, namely Iranian and American, something that Iran does not recognize.
Amirabdollahian’s statement came only two days after Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Chinese mediation, announced the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries and reopened their embassies after a seven-year freeze of relations. [em/jm]