0134 GMT December 09, 2022
The travel ban on Baquer Namazi, an Iranian-American former prisoner, was just lifted and his imprisoned son, Siamak Namazi, along with two other detainees with dual citizenship, has been granted a one-week renewable furlough. Meanwhile, it was announced that Iran’s frozen assets in South Korea would soon be released.
Iranian-American businessman, Siamak Namazi, was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying for the United States. His father was arrested a year later and detained on similar charges.
During the years since, the names of these two individuals have repeatedly popped up in every conversation regarding prisoner exchange between Iran and the U.S.
While Baquer has just left Iran, Siamak was released from detention but is still in the country, according to a statement issued by United Nations spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.
The statement further reads that UN Secretary-General António Guterres has thanked the Iranian president for permitting Baquer Namazi to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad.
“Baquer Namazi has been out of prison and staying at his home in Tehran for nearly four years due to medical issues,” said Kazem Gharibabadi, the Secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights. “Considering humanitarian considerations and the requests made for the continuance of his treatment abroad, the travel ban on Baquer Namazi was lifted last Wednesday.”
Announcing that Siamak Namazi was given a week’s leave so that he could visit his parents, Gharibabadi expressed hope that Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. will be released soon.
The Financial Times quoted a diplomat aware of the negotiations as saying that Iran’s move could be considered a goodwill gesture ahead of a broader prisoner swap deal.
According to consultations held during the past weeks, we are to see the release of prisoners in Iran and the U.S., Tasnim News Agency reported. Moreover, negotiations between the two countries, which was mediated by Qatar and made possible through the cooperation of Switzerland and the UN, has led to a prisoner swap deal and the release of $7 billion of Iran’s frozen assets in South Korea.
Mostafa Ghamari Vafa, a spokesman for the Central Bank of Iran, said that Iran’s diplomatic apparatus is constantly working to unblock more of the country’s funds, adding that while some banking considerations still remain to be ironed out, significant breakthroughs have lately been made.
When it seemed like the talks to revive the JCPOA had been halted, the release of two prisoners with dual citizenship and the United States’ greenlight for unblocking Iran’s funds in South Korea may very well prepare the ground for bringing both sides back to the negotiating table, even though there is currently no foreseeable timetable for resuming the talks.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister, who played the main role in mediating the deal between Iran and the U.S., in a phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, expressed Doha’s hope for the revival of the JCPOA in a manner that is fair to all sides.
Iranian officials have emphasized that the issue of prisoner swap will be pursued independently from the JCPOA talks.