June 23, 2024

Five Americans freed by Iran arrive near Washington: US official

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Five Americans freed by Iran in a high-stakes prisoner swap have landed back in the United States, a US official said Tuesday.

The five arrived at a military installation in the Washington area, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The former prisoners, including one held for eight years, arrived on a flight from the Gulf state of Qatar, which helped facilitate the exchange, and will receive a medical checkup in the Washington area.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan posted on X, formerly Twitter, a photo of the five freed prisoners aboard an aircraft alongside US diplomats who secured their freedom.

“Welcome home,” Sullivan wrote.

Following quiet discussions led in part by Qatar, the two countries completed the exchange after the transfer of $6 billion in funds, frozen by US ally South Korea.

The Biden administration has rejected criticism at home that it was paying “ransom,” insisting the money will be used only for humanitarian purposes, with a threat to re-freeze the funds if not.

But Iran has insisted it has full access.

The money “cruelly blocked until now and currently in the possession of the Islamic republic belongs to the people (of Iran) and we will use them to meet the people’s needs,” President Ebrahim Raisi said in New York.

Both Raisi and US President Joe Biden will be among world leaders gathered in New York Tuesday for the United Nations General Assembly.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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