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US State Department denies Iranian claims it made deal to release prisoners

(Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service)

The US State Department has denied reports on Iranian television that it has struck a deal that will see the release of US citizens detained.

State reporters said on Sunday that Iran plans to release prisoners with ties to Western countries under a deal it has reached with the United States and the United Kingdom.

According to the report, the US and UK would participate in a prisoner swap with Iran and then release $ 7 billion that had been frozen by sanctions imposed on the country.

“The Americans have agreed to pay $ 7 billion and exchange four Iranians active in circumventing sanctions for four American spies who have served part of their sentences,” the journalist said.

However, the United States has denied any involvement in these negotiations and the United Kingdom has played down the reports.

According to the Associated Press, US State Department spokesman Ned Price immediately denied the report.

“Reports that a prisoner exchange deal has been made are not true,” Price said. “As we said, we always bring up the cases of Americans detained or missing in Iran. We will not stop until we are able to reunite them with their families.”

The four Americans imprisoned in Iran are Baquer and Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi.

The Namazis are a father and son duo held by the country. Siamak, the son, was arrested in 2015 while working as a strategic planning manager at a Dubai-based oil company. His father was arrested by the war a year later after he was granted permission to visit his son in prison.

Mr Tahbaz – who also holds British citizenship – was arrested while using cameras to track the movements of endangered species while working for the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. He has been charged with espionage and denies having participated in espionage activities.

Mr Shargi, a businessman, was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for alleged actions against the country. The US State Department has argued that Mr. Shargi was wrongly detained.

It was not immediately clear from the state broadcast which Iranian prisoners would have been part of the alleged trafficking.

The Iranian report also claimed the UK would pay Iran £ 400million for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Anglo-Iranian woman who was sentenced to another year in prison by the country for dissemination. of “propaganda against the system” by participating in a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.

His last year in prison was nailed down after serving a five-year sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the country’s government. She denies any involvement in revolutionary plots.

A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office could not confirm the report and said: ‘We continue to explore options to resolve this 40 year old case and will not comment further as legal discussions are ongoing. . “

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said he had not been made aware of any negotiations involving his wife.

“We didn’t hear anything,” he said. “Of course, we probably wouldn’t, but my instinct is to be skeptical for now.”

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