US Denies Link Between Iran’s Release of Americans and Frozen Funds

The United States rejected Iranian reports that Tehran’s release of two detained Americans will lead to the unfreezing of Iranian funds frozen abroad.

Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad, and his son Siamak, 50, was released from detention in Tehran, the United Nations said over the weekend.

Siamak was imprisoned for nearly seven years in Iran on espionage-related charges rejected by Washington as baseless. His father, a former United Nations official, was also separately convicted on charges of “collaboration with a hostile government.” 

While the United States has said the release of Americans will not release about $7 billion in funds frozen abroad, Iranian state media has said otherwise. 

“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” the state news agency IRNA said.

The U.S. State Department dismissed any links as “categorically false.” 

Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries, including China, South Korea, and Japan. This happened since the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

“Baquer Namazi was unjustly detained in Iran and then not permitted to leave the country after serving his sentence, despite his repeated requirement for urgent medical attention,” a department spokesperson said.

The official said the understanding by the state department was that the lifting of the travel ban and the son’s furlough was related to his medical requirement. 

IRNA said yesterday that “Washington is pursuing at the same time the release of its citizens detained in Tehran and the release of Iranian funds in South Korea.”

The development comes as on-off talks have been underway since April 2021 to revive the 2015 deal that gave Iran much-needed sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

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