Iranian-U.S. detainees involved in swap, fund release

Illustration shows USA and Iranian flags

DUBAI (Reuters) -The United States and Iran will each free five detainees under an exchange agreement that also involves the transfer of $6 billion unfrozen Iranian assets from South Korea.

Following are the U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran who will be released under the deal:


Siamak Namazi, 51, a businessman with dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship, was detained in 2015 by the Revolutionary Guards while visiting his family in Tehran. Months later his ailing father, Baquer, was detained after returning to Iran to visit his jailed son. They were both sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison for allegedly spying and cooperating with the U.S. government.

A former Iranian provincial governor and former UNICEF official who also has dual citizenship, Baquer Namazi was put under house arrest in 2018 on medical grounds and left Iran in 2022 for medical treatment.


In 2017 Sharghi and his wife moved to Iran from the United States. The Iranian-American businessman, 59, was first arrested in 2018 when working for Saravan Holding, a tech investment company. He was released on bail after eight months and a Revolutionary Court cleared him of spying and security-related charges, but his travel ban remained.

In November 2020 he was summoned by another Revolutionary Court which sentenced him to 10 years in jail on charges of espionage. He was not initially imprisoned but Iranian media reported he was arrested as he tried to flee Iran in Jan. 2021.


An Iranian-American environmentalist, 67, who also holds British citizenship, Tahbaz was detained in 2018. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2019 for "assembly and collusion against Iran's national security" and "contacts with U.S. enemy government … for the purpose of spying”.

The fourth and fifth prisoners were not identified. It is not clear how many U.S. citizens are detained in Iran, since families and the U.S. government often do not wish to publicize the cases in the hope of quietly securing their release.


The five Iranians held in the United States are Mehrdad Moin-Ansari, Kambiz Attar-Kashani, Reza Sarhangpour-Kafrani, Amin Hassanzadeh and Kaveh Afrasiabi, according to Iranian officials.

Iran's foreign ministry said two Iranians freed under the deal would remain in the United States and one of the Iranians will fly to a third country to join his family. Two others will return home.

For years, Iran has demanded the release of Iranians detained in the United States. There are over a dozen Iranian prisoners held in the U.S. mainly for "breaching the U.S. sanctions on Iran", one Iranian judiciary source told Reuters.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Samia Nakhoul and William Maclean)