The United States has immediately denied Iran’s television report that an agreement had been reached between Tehran and Washington that could see prisoners exchange and receive Tehran a billion dollars.
An unnamed official quoted by Iranian TV in Iran said earlier in the week that the US-Tehran deal involved in a prisoner exchange over $ 7bn in Iranian currency.
A state television report, quoting an unnamed Iranian official, also stated that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe of Britain-Iran would be released if Britain paid off debt to its military equipment in Tehran.
A British Foreign Office official played the report.
Iran TV TV quoted the employee as saying: “Americans have agreed to pay $ 7bn in exchange for four Iranians who were working hard through sanctions against four American spies who were in prison.” He did not name the Iranians who wanted Tehran’s release.
U.S. State spokesman Ned Price immediately denied the Iranian TV report.
“Reports that the exchange deal has taken place are not true,” Price said.
“As we have said, we are constantly raising cases of Americans being detained or missing in Iran. We will not stop until we reunite their families.”
Biden chief of staff Ron Klain also criticized the report in the US, telling CBS Face the Nation that “unfortunately the report is not false. There is no agreement to release four Americans.”
“We are working hard to get them released,” Klain said. “We are talking about this with Iran and its regular contacts but so far there is no agreement.”
NEWS: In prison reports exchange #Iran @WHCOS Ron Klain says @alirezatalischioriginal“Unfortunately, this report is not false. There is no agreement to release four Americans.” pic.twitter.com/aLIrHlEneg
– Look at the Color (@FaceTheNation) May 2, 2021
Tehran detains four Americans in prison. Among them are Baquer and Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, and Iranian businessman Emad Shargi.
Iranian television reports have come amid a power struggle between activists and the minority government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The crisis has escalated as Iran nears its June 18 elections.
A well-supervised journalist also released anonymous reports against the delegation in Vienna in an attempt to negotiate a return to its nuclear deal with world powers.
It is unclear whether Sunday’s report represents other ways to disrupt talks with Rouhani officials or to undermine any possible talks with Europeans on exchange rates and prisoner exchanges.
No contract released in the UK
Iranian television also reported that the deal had been reached with the United Kingdom providing $ 400 million ($ 553m) to watch Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release.
British officials criticized the report. The Foreign Office said the country was continuing to “look for solutions to the 40-year-old case and could not comment further as legal talks were underway”.
Last week, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to life in prison an additional year in prison, his lawyer said, in the case of spreading “machine-related lies” by participating in protests in front of the Iranian ambassador to London in 2009.
This comes after he spent five years in prison in Iran after being convicted of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, a charge he, his supporters and militant groups have denied.
While working for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charitable journalist, he was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 on his way back to Britain after visiting the brothers.
Richard Ratcliffe, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, told the Associated Press that he was unaware of any changes in the process.
“We haven’t heard anything,” he said. “Obviously we won’t deny it, but my instinct is to be skeptical right now.”
Earlier on Sunday, UK Secretary of State Dominic Raab told the BBC he believed Zaghari-Ratcliffe was being “illegally detained” by Iran in a manner similar to “torture”.
“I think he was very rude to her,” Raab said.
“I think it hurts the way he treats her and there is a clear, definite guarantee for the Iranians to release him and all those who are being held as activists immediately and without any problem.”
Negotiations are taking place
Last week, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ali Rabiei also said that the prisoner-exchange exchange between Iran and the US could be working, saying the idea “has always been negotiated” and that the judges have confirmed “preparedness”.
His comments followed remarks by a Foreign Ministry spokesman who said Tehran was looking forward to a prison reform exchange as part of the talks in Vienna. The same change was accompanied by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran is now in talks with international authorities and the US is returning to its 2015 nuclear deal, which led to a reduction in its uranium enrichment in exchange for economic sanctions.
As the talks continued, Iranian speakers there made encouraging comments, with state television citing anonymous individuals holding senior positions.
This also showed Abbas Araghchi, the Deputy Foreign Minister leading the talks, criticizing on Twitter last week for Iranian English speakers, Press TV.
I don’t know who the “TV source” of Press TV in Vienna is, but they are not “anonymous”.
– Seyed Abbas Araghchi (@araghchi) April 20, 2021
“I don’t know who ‘knows’ Press TV in Vienna, but they don’t ‘know’,” Araghchi wrote.