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Source: CNN

Aug 10, 2023

Four Americans wrongfully detained in Iran released on house arrest, signaling a potential end to their imprisonment

By Christiane Amanpour and Jennifer Hansler

Four Americans who have been wrongfully detained in Iran have been released from prison and are now under house arrest, a lawyer for one of the prisoners told CNN on Thursday, a sign that they may soon be freed from years of imprisonment.

“The move by Iran of the American hostages from Evin Prison to an expected house arrest is an important development,” said Jared Genser, pro bono counsel to Siamak Namazi, one of those released. “While I hope this will be the first step to their ultimate release, this is at best the beginning of the end and nothing more.”

The Americans – Namazi, Emad Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz, and a fourth American who has not been identified publicly – were moved from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, and are anticipated to be held at a hotel under guard by Iranian officials.

The Biden administration has been engaged in negotiations to try to secure their release from Iran, a country with which it does not have diplomatic relations.

Genser strongly cautioned against being overly optimistic about freedom for the Americans until they are actually out of Iran. “There are simply no guarantees about what happens from here,” he said.

CNN has reached out to the US State Department and National Security Council for comment.

Namazi was arrested in 2015, when he was on a business trip to Iran. He was charged with having “relations with a hostile state,” referring to the US. Namazi is a dual Iranian-US citizen.

His father, Baquer Namazi, was released in order to receive medical treatment in October 2022 after more than six years in detention in Iran.

Shargi, a businessman, and Tahbaz, an environmentalist, were first arrested in 2018. They too are dual Iranian-US citizens.

All three have been declared wrongfully detained by the US State Department.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that his country has “been swapping messages with the American side through Qatar and Oman for months.”

The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Iran and diplomatic conversations are often conducted through third-party nations.

“To us, a prisoner swap is a purely humanitarian issue and we have set no pre-conditions for that. We have told the intermediaries that we are ready for the swap within a mutually agreed framework,” he said on the sidelines of the Iran-BRICS meeting in Tehran.

In March, Namazi made an emotional plea to US President Joe Biden to put the “liberty of innocent Americans above politics” and ramp up efforts to secure his release, in an unprecedented interview with CNN from inside Evin prison.

“I remain deeply worried that the White House just doesn’t appreciate how dire our situation has become,” Namazi told CNN.

Namazi’s family, as well as the Shargi and Tahbaz families, have made urgent calls for the Biden administration to intensify efforts to bring their loved ones home.

“President Biden and his administration have repeatedly told our families that our loved ones are priority, so we are imploring that he grants us our one request to meet with us and to hear our plights firsthand,” Tara Tahbaz, Morad’s daughter, said in March.

“There’s no politically correct time to make a move to bring them home,” she said.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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