A U.S. State Department spokesperson has denied new Iranian claims that the two countries had reached a tentative agreement on a prisoner swap.
On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian shared claims through shared by Iranian state media channels that Iran and the U.S. had reached a tentative agreement on a prisoner swap. Those claims spread throughout news media channels on Sunday, before a U.S. official came forward to dispel the claim.
“Regarding the issue of prisoner swaps between Iran and the U.S. we have reached an agreement in the 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 said, Reuters reported.
Amirabdollahian claimed the Iranian side was ready to make the exchange, but the U.S. side was still working out the final details to coordinate the prisoner swap.
In response to an Atlas News request for comment, a State Department spokesperson said “Claims by Iranian officials that we have reached a deal for the release of the U.S. citizens wrongfully held by Iran are false.”
The list of U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran includes Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi.
“Unfortunately, Iranian officials will not hesitate to make things up, and the latest cruel claim will cause more heartache for the families of Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz,” the State Department spokesperson told Atlas News. “We remain committed to securing the freedom of Siamak, Emad, and Morad, but we have nothing to announce at this time.”
Other U.S. citizens and residents are currently detained or restricted from leaving Iran.
Karan Vafadari and Afarin Niasari, a married couple, were also imprisoned in Iran in 2016. The couple was released from prison in 2018, but they remain unable to leave the country.
Shahab Dalili, an Iranian national granted permanent residence in the U.S., also remains in Iranian custody on suspicions of cooperating with a hostile foreign government.
Jamshid Sharmahd, a German-Iranian citizen who also has U.S. residency, is facing the death penalty in Iran. According to Amnesty International, Sharmahd is a journalist who ran a website that shared statements by the pro-monarchy Kingdom Assembly of Iran (KAI) organization, which the Iranian government considers to be a terrorist organization. In February, the Iranian government sentenced Sharmahd to death and he is awaiting execution.
There is no definitive list of Iranian nationals imprisoned, or detained or that the U.S. is otherwise preventing from returning to Iran. According to the U.S. Institute of Peace, there were 13 Iranian nationals detained in the U.S. as of Jan. 16, 2023.