US denies Iran claims of prisoner deal; UK plays it down

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US denies Iran claims of prisoner deal; UK plays it down

Washington, May 3

The United States and Iran are in lively talks over the discharge of prisoners, an individual conversant in the discussions stated Sunday as Washington denied a report by Iranian state-run tv that offers had been struck.

Prisoner swaps between the US and Iran aren’t unusual and each international locations in recent times have routinely sought the discharge of detainees. 

But any motion between the 2 international locations is especially delicate because the Biden administration appears to be like to restart nuclear talks. A 2015 atomic accord between the nations included prisoner exchanges.

The difficulty burst into public view with a report in Iran of a deal for the Islamic Republic to launch US and British prisoners in change for Tehran receiving billions of {dollars}. 

US officers instantly denied the report, although an individual with information of the discussions who was not authorised to debate them publicly stated talks are lively, with messages handed between intermediaries.

It wasn’t instantly clear if the report represented a transfer by the hard-liners operating the Iranian broadcaster to disrupt negotiations with the West amid talks in Vienna on Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal.

Even after an preliminary American denial, an anchorwoman on Iranian state TV nonetheless repeated the announcement.

“Some sources say 4 Iranian prisoners are to be launched and USD 7 billion are to be obtained by Iran in change for releasing 4 American spies,” the anchorwoman stated. 

She described the claimed deal as coming attributable to congressional stress on President Joe Biden and “his urgent need to show progress made in the Iran case.” But Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, later denied the report of the prisoner swap, saying that it’s “not confirmed,” in line with the Telegram channel of state-run IRNA information company. 

“Iran has all the time emphasised the excellent change of prisoners between the 2 international locations,” he stated, with out elaborating.

State TV didn’t establish the Iranians that Tehran sought to be freed.

State Department spokesman Ned Price instantly denied the Iranian state TV report.

“Reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached are not true,” Price stated. 

“As we have said, we always raise the cases of Americans detained or missing in Iran. We will not stop until we are able to reunite them with their families.”   Biden’s chief of workers Ron Klain informed CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “sadly, that report is unfaithful. 

There is not any settlement to launch these 4 Americans.”   “We’re working very hard to get them released,” Klain stated. “We raise this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time, but so far there’s no agreement.” Tehran holds 4 identified Americans now in jail: Baquer and Siamak Namazi, environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi. Iran lengthy has been accused of holding these with Western ties prisoners to be later used as bargaining chips in negotiations.

Despite the American denials, there have been indicators {that a} deal on prisoners could also be within the works primarily based on Iranian officers’ remarks in current weeks. 

Although no formal proposal for a swap has but been introduced to officers in Washington, not to mention been signed off on by the White House, the specificity of the studies from Iran steered that working-level consideration of a deal is a minimum of underway.

State TV additionally quoted sources as saying a deal had been reached for the United Kingdom to pay 400 million kilos (USD 552 million) to see the discharge of British-Iranian girl Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

British officers performed down the report. The Foreign Office stated the nation continues “to discover choices to resolve this 40-year-old case and we is not going to remark additional as authorized discussions are ongoing.” Aside from Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, the UK and Iran are also negotiating  a British debt to Tehran from earlier than the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Last week, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to an extra yr in jail, her lawyer stated, on prices of spreading “propaganda against the system” for collaborating in a protest in entrance of the Iranian Embassy in London in 2009.

That got here after she accomplished a five-year jail sentence within the Islamic Republic after being convicted of plotting the overthrow of Iran’s authorities, a cost that she, her supporters and rights teams deny.

While employed on the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the information company, she was taken into custody on the Tehran airport in April 2016 as she was returning house to Britain after visiting household.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, informed The Associated Press he was not conscious of any swap within the works.

“We haven’t heard anything,” he stated. “Of course, we probably wouldn’t, but my instinct is to be skeptical at present.”  Earlier Sunday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab informed the BBC that he believed Zaghari-Ratcliffe was being held “unlawfully” by Iran.

“I think she’s been treated in the most abusive, tortuous way,” Raab stated. “I think it amounts to torture the way she’s been treated and there is a very clear, unequivocal obligation on the Iranians to release her and all of those who are being held as leverage immediately and without condition.”  The announcement by state TV comes amid a wider energy battle between hard-liners and the comparatively reasonable authorities of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. That battle solely has grown sharper as Iran approaches its June 18 presidential election.AP

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