America denies Iran’s claims concerning the prisoners’ deal; UK downplays it

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – America instantly denied a report by Iranian state tv on Sunday that agreements had been made for the Islamic Republic to launch American and British prisoners in alternate for receiving billion {dollars} by Tehran.

It was not instantly clear whether or not the report represented a call by hard-line supporters on the head of Iranian tv station to disrupt negotiations with the West amid talks in Vienna over the tattered nuclear deal. Tehran.

It was additionally unclear whether or not there had been ongoing negotiations with the West over frozen funds and prisoner swaps, each of which accompanied the 2015 atomic deal.

Even after an preliminary US denial, an Iranian state tv presenter repeated the announcement.

“Some sources say that 4 Iranian prisoners have to be launched and that $ 7 billion have to be obtained by Iran in alternate for the discharge of 4 American spies,” the presenter stated. She described the claimed deal as coming as a consequence of congressional strain on President Joe Biden and “its pressing want to indicate progress on Iran’s case.

However Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, later denied the prisoner swap report, saying it was “unconfirmed,” in response to the Telegram channel. official IRNA information company.

“Iran has at all times centered on the worldwide alternate of prisoners between the 2 nations,” he stated, with out giving additional particulars.

State tv didn’t establish the Iranians Tehran sought to free.

State Division spokesman Ned Value instantly denied the Iranian state tv report.

“Studies {that a} prisoner alternate deal has been made will not be true,” Value stated. “As we stated, we at all times convey up the circumstances of People detained or lacking in Iran. We is not going to cease till we’re in a position to reunite them with their households. “

Biden’s chief of workers Ron Klain informed CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “sadly this report is bogus. There is no such thing as a settlement to launch these 4 People.

“We’re working very onerous to get them launched,” Klain stated. “We elevate this difficulty with Iran and our interlocutors on a regular basis, however to date there isn’t a settlement.”

Tehran at the moment holds 4 well-known People in jail: Baquer and Siamak Namazi, environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi. Iran has lengthy been accused of holding prisoners with ties to the West to later use as bargaining chips in negotiations.

Regardless of US denials, there have been indicators {that a} prisoner deal might be within the works based mostly on Remarks by Iranian officials in recent weeks.

Whereas no formal alternate proposal has but been offered to officers in Washington, not to mention endorsed by the White Home, the specificity of Iran’s reviews steered that consideration of an operational-level deal is required. a minimum of in progress.

State tv additionally cited sources as saying that an settlement had been made for the UK to pay £ 400million ($ 552million) to see the discharge of Anglo-Iranian lady Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

British officers have performed down the report. The Overseas Ministry stated the nation was persevering with “to discover choices to resolve this 40-year-old case and we is not going to remark additional as authorized discussions are ongoing.”

Along with the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, the UK and Iran are additionally negotiating a British debt to Tehran before the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Final week Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to a further yr in jail, her lawyer stated, for spreading “propaganda towards the system” for collaborating in a protest outdoors the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.

It got here after serving a five-year jail sentence within the Islamic Republic after being convicted of plotting to overthrow the Iranian authorities, a cost she, her supporters and rights teams deny.

Whereas employed on the Thomson Reuters Basis, the information company’s charitable arm, she was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 on her manner dwelling to Britain after visiting his household.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe informed The Related Press he was not conscious of any ongoing exchanges.

“We did not hear something,” he stated. “After all we most likely would not, however my intuition is to be skeptical for now.”

Earlier on Sunday, UK Overseas Secretary Dominic Raab informed the BBC he believed Zaghari-Ratcliffe was being held “illegally” by Iran.

“I believe she was handled in probably the most abusive and torturous manner,” Raab stated. “I believe this quantities to torturing the way in which she was handled and there’s a very clear and unequivocal obligation for the Iranians to launch her and all those that are being held as leverage instantly and unconditionally.”

The state tv announcement comes amid a wider energy battle between extremists and the comparatively reasonable authorities of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. This battle has solely worsened within the run-up to Iran’s June 18 presidential election.

Iranian Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who lobbied for the 2015 nuclear deal underneath Rouhani, has been embroiled in a scandal over outspoken feedback he made in a leaked recording. Zarif’s title was thrown as a possible candidate for election, something that now seems unlikely as even Iran’s supreme leader has apparently criticized it.

Tehran is at the moment negotiating with world powers over each itself and the US to revert to the nuclear deal, which has seen it restrict its uranium enrichment in alternate for the lifting of financial sanctions. Nonetheless, Iran didn’t conduct direct negotiations with the US throughout the talks.

As negotiations proceed, Iranian diplomats provided encouraging feedback, whereas state tv quoted nameless sources hitting maximalist positions contradicting them. It even noticed Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy overseas minister main the talks, supply a reprimand on Twitter final week to Iran’s English-language state tv channel, Press TV.

“I do not know who the ‘knowledgeable supply’ of Press TV in Vienna is, however he / she is actually not ‘knowledgeable’,” Araghchi wrote.


Lee reported from Washington. Related Press editors Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Danica Kirka in London contributed.

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