Iran-u.s. Prisoner Swap, Unfreezing of Funds to Take Place “Simultaneously”

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A senior Iranian official said on Friday the exchange of prisoners between Iran and the United States will take place “simultaneously” with the release of Iran’s frozen assets in banks of the Republic of Korea (ROK).

“The U.S. prisoners in Iran will leave simultaneously with the irreversible release of our illegally held citizens and the full transfer of illegally held assets in South Korea, similar to the recently freed assets in Iraq,” Mohammad Jamshidi, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, said in a post on X, previously known as Twitter.

The prisoner swap and unfreezing of assets were announced Thursday night in a statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said that the country’s funds “had been illegally frozen in the ROK’s banks for a few years by the United States,” adding that “Iran has obtained the necessary guarantees from the U.S. for its continued commitment to obligations in this regard.”

It is estimated that Iran has funds worth over 7 billion U.S. dollars in ROK’s two banks, which refuse to process them for fear of possible U.S. penalties.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement on Thursday that Washington had received confirmation about the release of the “unjustly detained Americans,” whose number she put at five, in Iran.

In remarks at a press conference on the same day, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there would be no sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for the release of the Americans.

Iranian authorities say the Americans were arrested and jailed on spying charges.

Over the past months, Iran has repeatedly expressed its readiness to swap prisoners with the United States as a humanitarian issue under the precondition that the latter acts “realistically.”