Iran expected to free five Americans in prisoner swap
18 September 2023
Five Americans jailed in Iran are expected to fly home as part of a deal mediated by the Gulf state of Qatar.
The four men and one woman, who also hold Iranian passports, will board a plane once it is confirmed that $6bn (£4.8bn) in Iranian funds once held in South Korea have reached banks in Doha, BBC reports.
This is part of a deal reached last month after a year of indirect talks.
Five Iranians imprisoned in US jails, mainly on charges of violating US sanctions, will also be released.
The Americans detained in Iran's notorious Evin prison were told many times before they would soon be freed. Now it seems that will finally happen on Monday morning.
They are reported to include 51-year-old Siamak Namazi; 59-year-old businessman Emad Shargi; and 67-year-old environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, who also holds British citizenship.
President Biden has long been urged to bring home Americans widely seen as hostages used by Iran as bargaining chips.
For Iran, this deal frees money it earned from selling oil to South Korea - although the funds deposited in Qatar banks can only be used by third parties to purchase goods such as food and medicine.
The swap is complex and controversial.
It is being condemned by leading US Republicans and Iranian activists who say it will only encourage more hostage taking.
But this looks set to be a day of huge relief and joy for prisoners and their loved ones.