Officials in Iran said today that they’ve released four detainees as part of a prisoner swap with the United States, according to Iranian media reports.
Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American journalist and the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tehran, is one of the prisoners being freed. Rezaian was arrested in July of 2014, along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and later convicted in a closed trial for unspecified charges. (Salehi was freed in October.)
According to the Fars news agency, six Iranian-Americans being held in the United States were also freed as part of the deal.
A Tehran prosecutor confirmed the arrangement, according to Fars. “Based on an approval of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and the general interests of the Islamic Republic, four Iranian prisoners with dual-nationality were freed today within the framework of a prisoner swap deal,” the prosecutor said.
In September, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told CNN that his country was open to a swap, under certain conditions. “If the Americans take the appropriate steps and set them free, certainly the right environment will be open and the right circumstances will be created for us to do everything within our power and our purview to bring about the swiftest freedom for the Americans held in Iran as well,” Rouhani said at the time.
The reported swap is happening in the midst of a pivotal moment for US-Iranian diplomatic relations. Following what many experts believe will be a positive report from the International Atomic Energy Agency this weekend, Iran may have its sanctions lifted as early as Monday (Jan. 18). The move, dependent on Iran’s compliance with nuclear program restrictions, would free up billions in frozen funds. Tensions between Iran and the United States had flared briefly after 10 US sailors and their boats were seized by the Iranian military in the Persian Gulf on Jan. 12. But with the stakes high on both sides, Iran released the sailors less than 24 hours later.