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Iran says US agreed to prisoner swap. Washington says it's a lie

According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, the comments add 'to the suffering' of families waiting for their loved ones
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian at a press conference in Ankara, on 27 June 2022.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian at a press conference in Ankara, on 27 June 2022 (AFP)

Iran’s top diplomat has said that the US agreed to a prisoner swap, while Washington dismissed those comments as a “cruel lie”.

Hossein Amirabdollahian, the Iranian foreign minister, said that Iran reached an agreement in recent days regarding the exchange of prisoners between Tehran and the US.

“If everything goes well on the American’s side, I think we will see the exchange of prisoners in the short term,” he said in an interview with Iranian state television on Sunday. 

He continued to say that there was a document that had been “indirectly signed and approved” between the two countries in March 2022, laying out the exchange.

The US denied those claims.

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According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, those comments are “another especially cruel lie that only adds to the suffering of their families”.

“We are working relentlessly to secure the release of the three wrongfully detained Americans in Iran,” Price said on Sunday. “We will not stop until they are reunited with their loved ones.”

The White House’s National Security Council also denied the remarks on Monday.

"There's no deal. And the last thing that we want to do is give false hope to families that have been waiting for a long time for their loved ones to come home," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters during a news conference on Monday.

'Outrageous' effort to deflect blame

Iran has made claims about prisoner swaps before. In 2021, Iran insisted a prisoner swap deal had been agreed upon with the US, but Washington denied such an agreement had been reached. 

The US called it an “outrageous" effort to deflect blame for the impasse in the nuclear talks in Vienna and denied that any deal had been reached on a prisoner swap at the time. 

Earlier this year, Siamak Namazi started a week-long hunger strike and sent a letter to US President Joe Biden, pleading to bring him home.

US citizen jailed by Iran begins hunger strike, urges Biden for help
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In his letter, which was shared by his lawyer, Namazi asked Biden to spend a minute each day for the next week thinking about the suffering of Americans detained in Iran.

"When the Obama Administration unconscionably left me in peril and freed the other American citizens Iran held hostage on January 16, 2016, the US Government promised my family to have me safely home within weeks," Namazi said.

"Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain caged in Tehran's notorious Evin prison."

Namazi was arrested in October 2015 on charges of trying to overthrow the state, accusations that he denies. He is among several Americans currently detained in Iran, including environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, and businessman Emad Shargi, 58.

Last year, the US engaged in several prisoner swaps to free Americans detained in other countries, including striking a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan and engaging in a high-profile swap that saw American basketball player Britney Griner freed in exchange for the release of the notorious arms dealer, Viktor Bout.

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