Iranian authorities released five U.S. citizens from prison to house arrest. They include Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Shargi, and two Americans who wish to remain private. Most have been in prison since before the Biden administration took office. “One has been held for nearly eight years. None should have been detained in the first place,” declared Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a recent briefing.
Iran will gain access to $6 billion of its existing frozen assets for humanitarian expenditures such as food and medicine, explained Secretary Blinken:
“The dollars that are being made available – that is, Iranian funds that are being made now available to Iran – this is a way of actually facilitating their use strictly for humanitarian purposes and in a strictly controlled way – again, purposes that have been exempt from day one from our sanctions. Iran will not have direct access to these funds. There will be significant oversight and visibility from the United States.”
“Nothing about our overall approach to Iran has changed,” affirmed Secretary Blinken:
“We continue to pursue a strategy of deterrence, of pressure, and diplomacy. We remain committed to ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. We continue to hold the regime accountable for its human rights abuses, destabilizing actions in the region, funding of terrorism, provision of drones to Russia, for its use in the war against Ukraine, among many other offenses.”
“We’ve been clear that Iran must de-escalate to create space for future diplomacy,” said Secretary Blinken. “The move of our detainees out of prison and to home detention – is not linked to any other aspect of our Iran policy. It is simply about our people.”
Indeed, the United States expects the five Americans who have been moved from prison to home detention to return home in the weeks ahead.
“I have no higher priority than looking out for the security and well-being of Americans around the world,” said Secretary Blinken. “Our department will continue to do everything we can to gain the release of those who are unjustly held around the world.”