Iranian official says prisoner swap with US expected Monday

A prisoner exchange between the United States and Iran is expected to take place on Monday, according to an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, after two years of high-stakes negotiations.

As part of the deal, the United States agreed to release $6 billion in Iranian oil revenues and drop federal charges against several Iranians accused of violating U.S. sanctions.

The announcement at a news conference in Tehran by spokesman Nasser Kanaani came as President Biden and Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president, were scheduled to attend the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday world leaders. The spokesperson’s remarks were published on the website of the Iranian news agency ISNA.

Mr. Kanaani said five Iranians, several of whom are permanent residents of the United States, should be released. It is not yet clear how many Iranians would return to Iran, although Mr. Kanaani said there would be two.

Five American prisoners, some of whom had been held for years in Evin Prison, one of Iran’s most notorious detention centers, are expected to be released under the deal.

The Americans – Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz, along with two others who were not named at the request of their families – were imprisoned on unfounded accusations of espionage.

They had spent recent weeks in Iran under house arrest after Tehran agreed to release them from prison while the $6 billion transfer, a complicated process, was being completed.

Mr. Biden’s top aides said financial sanctions would prevent Iran from spending money on anything other than food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. But they acknowledge that the deal could free up money that Iran already spends on these items for other purposes.

The terms of the deal drew sharp criticism from Republicans, who accused Mr. Biden of helping to finance Iran’s terrorist activities around the world.

Administration officials said the Iran deal was the only way to secure the release of the five Americans, who the United States said had been wrongly detained by the Iranians in deplorable conditions.

The deal was part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to defuse tensions with Iran, which had soared in the years since President Donald J. Trump’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which imposed limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

In an interview last week in Tehran with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, Mr. Raisi said U.S. detainees held in Iran were in “good health” and that Tehran had authority over how it used the released funds.

“This money belongs to the Iranian people, to the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money,” Raisi said.

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