US shoots down Iranian claims of prisoner swap agreement: ‘Cruel lie’
The U.S. State Department shot down claims from Iranian officials that the two countries had reached an agreement to make a prisoner exchange Sunday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahia claimed an agreement had been reached during a Sunday appearance on Iranian state television. The U.S. now says no such agreement exists.
“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,” State Department spokesman Ned Price clarified Sunday.
“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,” Price added.
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Iran had claimed the deal was all but complete, missing only “technical coordination” from the U.S.
“Regarding the issue of prisoner swaps between Iran and the U.S. we have reached an agreement in recent days and if everything goes well on the U.S. side, I think we will witness a prisoner exchange in a short period,” Amirabdollahian had said earlier on Sunday.
“On our part everything is ready, while the U.S. is currently working on the final technical coordination,” he added.
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Several U.S. citizens are currently held in Iranian custody, with charges including spying and cooperating with the U.S. government. The prisoners include Iranian-American businessmen Siamak Namazi and Emad Sharghi, as well as environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, who holds Iranian, American and British citizenship.
For years, Tehran has sought the release of more than a dozen Iranians in the United States, including seven Iranian-American dual nationals, two Iranians with permanent U.S. residency and four Iranian citizens with no legal status in the United States.
Amiradbollahian did not elaborate on the details of his supposed agreement. U.S. officials say no deal has been made, though they are committed to securing the release of Americans held in Iran.
Such an exchange would be the first high-profile prisoner swap since the U.S. traded a world-class arms dealer in exchange for WNBA Star Brittney Griner in a December deal with Russia.
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Griner had been held in Russian custody for months after law enforcement discovered cannabis in her possession.
This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates.