State Department says Iran’s claims that prisoner swap deal had been reached a ‘cruel lie’
State Department says Iran’s claims that prisoner swap deal had been reached a ‘cruel lie’Ryan King
March 12, 12:15 PM March 12, 12:15 PM
The State Department denied claims from Iran that the United States reached a deal with Tehran about a prisoner swap.
Iranian officials had claimed that an agreement was achieved and that they were optimistic that the exchange would take place in a “short period” of time, but State Department spokesman Ned Price countered that claim, saying that work to secure the release of detained Americans in Iran is ongoing.
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“Statements from Iranian officials that a deal regarding the exchange of prisoners has been reached are another especially cruel lie that only adds to the suffering of their families,” Price said. “We are working relentlessly to secure the release of the three wrongfully detained Americans in Iran. We will not stop until they are reunited with their loved ones.”
There are at least three American prisoners in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, which has been subject to criticism over its human rights records. The three include businessman Siamak Namazi, businessman Emad Sharghi, and environmentalist Morad Tahbaz. Namazi. who is Iran’s longest-held American prisoner, was arrested in 2015, while the other two were first arrested in 2018. Iran is seeking the release of over a dozen Iranians in the U.S.
“Regarding the issue of prisoner swaps between Iran and the U.S., we have reached an agreement in the recent days, and if everything goes well on the U.S. side, I think we will witness a prisoner exchange in a short period,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, per Reuters.
Other top U.S. officials also denied Iran’s claims.
“Unfortunately, Iranian officials will not hesitate to make things up, and the latest cruel claim will cause more heartache for the families of Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz,” a National Security Council official said.
President Joe Biden has sought to ease relations with Iran and revive negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear capabilities after his predecessor scrapped an Obama administration-era deal. However, those attempts appear to have fallen flat.
Recently, Iran and Saudia Arabia announced that they would resume normalized relations after China helped the two sides cut a deal, marking a significant breakthrough. Both sides are set to reopen embassies in the other country over the next two months.