Biden Admin Releases $6 Billion in Assets to Iran for Release of Detained Americans

Biden Admin Releases $6 Billion in Assets to Iran for Release of Detained Americans

Five American citizens and two family members, detained in Iran, have been released and are en route to the United States, confirmed White House officials.

They arrived in Doha, Qatar, on Monday after leaving Iran. The White House presented this move as a reunification of families.

As part of the exchange, the U.S. released five Iranian prisoners and returned $6 billion in frozen funds to Iran.

A White House official stated on Sunday night, “The president is making five families whole again.”

These frozen assets were delivered to Qatar on Sunday night, thereby prompting Iran’s decision to release the detainees. Qatar has been acting as an intermediary in negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

President Biden acknowledged this exchange in a statement on Monday, mentioning that the two American citizens involved have requested to remain anonymous.

He urged the Iranian regime to provide a full account of the circumstances surrounding Bob Levinson, who did not return home, stating, “The Levinson family deserves answers.”

Biden added, “Today, we are sanctioning former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence under the Levinson Act for their involvement in wrongful detentions. And, we will continue to impose costs on Iran for their provocative actions in the region.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a news conference on Monday to address questions regarding the exchange. He expressed relief that the American citizens were now free and mentioned that the U.S. is working on further measures to deter countries from unlawfully imprisoning U.S. citizens.

Blinken clarified that the prisoner exchange was negotiated independently of discussions regarding the Iran nuclear deal. He emphasized that this exchange should not be interpreted as progress in the negotiations for the nuclear deal.

The Biden administration has stressed that Qatar will maintain control of the unfrozen $6 billion, distributing it to Iran exclusively for humanitarian purposes.

Critics argue that this is insufficient, as Iran has a history of misusing humanitarian exemptions in sanctions laws.

Benham Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, criticized the administration’s approach, saying, “The Islamic Republic must be beaming now. Despite rhetoric from Washington about supporting the Iranian people, in practice, with the waiver and random payment, the Biden administration is now effectively helping Tehran signal that no matter what the regime does, it will not be met with meaningful pressure.”

During the news conference, Blinken was questioned about the mechanism in place to ensure Iran does not use the unfrozen money for terrorist activities.

Initially, Blinken indicated that the details had not been finalized. However, he later stated, “The money will be used exclusively for humanitarian purposes. And we have the means and mechanisms to make sure that that happens.”


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