A plane transporting five individuals, identified by the Biden administration as U.S. citizens, landed in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just south of Washington D.C., on Tuesday morning, as reported by CBS News.
These five Americans were released from Iran on the preceding day in exchange for five Iranians held prisoner in the United States and the unfreezing of $6 billion of Iran’s assets held in a South Korean bank.
Among the passengers on the plane, three were identified as Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz, all of whom had been sentenced by Iran to 10 years in prison on espionage charges.
The report noted that two individuals involved in the exchange, including a female former U.N. worker, were not identified, and U.S. officials indicated that they wished to remain anonymous.
Making Families Whole Again
In a Sunday briefing, a White House official remarked, “The president is making five families whole again.”
The prisoner exchange between Iran and the United States was the result of months of negotiations.
Along with the detainee swap, the United States agreed to repatriate nearly $6 billion in Iranian assets frozen in a South Korean bank due to U.S. sanctions.
Cash With a Catch
Under the terms of the agreement, the funds were to be deposited in a Qatar bank, with the stipulation that Iran could only use the money for humanitarian purposes such as food and medicine.
The South Korean bank reportedly transferred the money to a Swiss bank, which subsequently sent it to a bank in Doha, Qatar.
Once the $6 billion had been deposited in Qatar, Iran flew the U.S. prisoners to Doha on Monday.
An Emotional Reunion
Upon their arrival in Qatar, the five Americans received a warm welcome from U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Timmy Davis.
Namazi, Emad Sharghi, and Morad Tahbaz embraced the ambassador and others present.
The flight from Qatar landed in Virginia on Tuesday morning.
One of the released individuals, Mr. Namazi, expressed his longing for freedom, saying, “I want to see foliage instead of walls and wardens. I want to lay back on the grass, with the warm sun on my face, and gaze up at the open blue skies.”
Heading to the Apple Store
He also mentioned his desire to visit an Apple Store to replace the devices confiscated during his captivity.
President Joe Biden acknowledged the exchange in a statement, highlighting that two of the Americans have opted to keep their identities private.
He also called on the Iranian regime to provide a complete account of the fate of Bob Levinson, an American who did not return and whose family seeks answers.
No Threat to National Security
The Biden administration asserted that the Iranians released in this exchange do not pose a threat to U.S. national security.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, who was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, characterized the exchange as “a step in the direction of a humanitarian action between us and America” and expressed hope that it would contribute to building trust.
Two of the Iranians who returned to Iran were identified as Mehrdad Ansari and Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani.
Mr. Ansari was sentenced in the U.S. in 2021 for acquiring equipment with potential military applications, while Mr. Kafrani faced charges related to alleged unlawful exports to Iran.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / David Carillet
Source: CBS News