Four wrongfully detained Americans in Iran moved to house arrest

August 10, 2023

Four Americans who have been wrongfully detained in Iran have been moved from Evin Prison and are now under house arrest at an Iranian hotel, CNN reported Thursday. 

“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. “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.”

Namazi, who’s 51 years old, has been under arrest in Iran for more than seven years. According to CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, he’s the longest-held American prisoner in Iran. 

The other three Americans who’ve been moved to house arrest are Emad Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz, and one more American who has not been publicly identified. 

Sharghi and Tahbaz have both been imprisoned since 2018.

Iran has denied that it has imprisoned Americans or other foreigners on arbitrary charges and says their cases have been handled in accordance with its laws. 

“Wrongfully detained” is a State Department designation which shifts a U.S. prisoner in a foreign country to a specialized section of the agency called the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. That office is focused on negotiating for the release of captives.

The U.S. has for months been holding indirect talks with Iran on a possible prisoner swap in exchange for the wrongfully detained Americans.

On Thursday, Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, confirmed that the movement of the prisoners to house arrest was the first step in a swap in which the U.S. would exchange five Americans’ freedom—those named above and two whose families are withholding their identities—for several jailed Iranians and eventual access to about $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue.

However, she added, “Negotiations for their eventual release remain ongoing and are delicate.”

PHOTO: Evin Prison in Iran, 2008

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