Doha and Washington
Five Americans who had been imprisoned in Iran have been freed and have landed in Doha, Qatar, before flying to the United States later on Monday.
The five, all of whom had been designated as wrongfully detained, were freed as part of a wider deal that includes the US unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian funds.
They are being flown on a Qatari government jet to Doha, which left an airport Tehran on Monday afternoon local time. Two relatives of the detainees are also on board, along with the Qatari ambassador to Tehran.
The release of the Americans brings to an end a years-long nightmare for those who had been detained. Three of those who are believed to be part of the deal – Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz, and Siamak Namazi – had all been imprisoned for more than five years. Namazi had been detained since 2015. The identities of the other two Americans are not publicly known.
Siamak Namazi’s mother Effie Namazi and Morad Tahbaz’s wife Vida Tahbaz – who were previously unable to leave Iran – were also on the flight from Iran to Doha, a senior Biden administration official said.
US citizens Siamak Namazi (2nd-L) and Morad Tahbaz (R) are welcomed by people upon disembarking from a Qatari jet upon their arrival at the Doha International Airport in Doha on September 18, 2023.
After stopping in the Qatari capital, they will travel on to the Washington, DC, area to be reunited with their families, the official said.
President Joe Biden celebrated the release of the five Americans “after enduring years of agony, uncertainty, and suffering.”
“Today, five innocent Americans who were imprisoned in Iran are finally coming home,” Biden wrote in a statement released Monday, shortly before the Americans were scheduled to land in Doha, Qatar. “I am grateful to our partners at home and abroad for their tireless efforts to help us achieve this outcome, including the Governments of Qatar, Oman, Switzerland, and South Korea.”
Their release represents a significant diplomatic breakthrough after years of complicated indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran. The United States and Iran do not have formal diplomatic ties. Relations further plummeted under the Trump administration, when the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and pursued a “maximum pressure” approach to Tehran. In the years since, efforts to constrain Iran’s growing nuclear program have been unsuccessful.
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