Updated 7:22 AM EDT, Mon September 18, 2023
Five Americans who have been imprisoned in Iran are expected to be released Monday as part of a wider US-Iran deal, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman has said.
The US government has designated all five Americans as being wrongfully detained.
Speaking at a press conference which was shown on state-affiliated Press TV on Monday, foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the release “will hopefully be completed” alongside the other elements of the deal.
The detainees are being transported to a Qatari jet, which is on standby in Iran to bring the five Americans to Doha, a source briefed on details of the matter told CNN on Monday afternoon local time.
Under the agreement between the US and Iran, $6 billion in Iranian funds that had been held in restricted accounts in South Korea would be transferred to restricted accounts in banks in Qatar. Iranian and US officials have been notified by Qatar that the money has been transferred from Switzerland to bank accounts in Qatar, according to a source briefed on details of the matter.
Sources told CNN the funds came from oil sales that were allowed and placed into accounts set up under the Trump administration. Biden administration officials have stressed that the funds that have been transferred to the accounts in Qatar will only be able to be used by Iran for humanitarian purchases and each transaction will be monitored by the US Treasury Department.
The agreement also involves the release of five Iranians in US custody.
The release of the Americans would represent a significant diplomatic breakthrough after years of complicated indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran.
The three who are publicly known to be part of the deal – Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz, and Siamak Namazi – have all been imprisoned for more than five years. Namazi has been detained since 2015. The identities of the other two Americans are not publicly known.