The five Americans who were released Monday from Iran as part of a prisoner swap have landed in the U.S.
The Americans and two of their family members arrived in Doha, Qatar, on Monday after leaving Iran. White House officials touted the move as President Biden reuniting families. During the exchange, the U.S. offered up five Iranian prisoners and returned $6 billion in frozen funds for use in Iran.
“The president is making five families whole again,” a White House official said Sunday night.
Siamak Namazi, one of the five Americans involved in the swap deal, released a statement saying that it may take him a while to get “reacquainted with liberty” and confront health issues from his time in prison, but he also expressed excitement for the opportunities that will be presented by his newfound freedom.
“I want to see foliage instead of walls and wardens. I want to lay back on the grass, with the warm sun on my face, and gaze up at the open blue skies,” Namazi said in the statement. “My other pressing ‘needs’ include visiting the Apple Store to replace all the devices my captors took as bounty. I am dying to find out what gadgets now exist – when i was taken hostage, the iPhone 6s had just come out. You cannot imagine what an eight-year itch feels like.”
The five Americans were greeted on the tarmac in Qatar on Monday by U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis. Three of the former prisoners, Namazi, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz, hugged the ambassador and others present after exiting the plane.
Biden marked the exchange in a statement on Monday, explaining that the two unidentified Americans have requested that their identities not be revealed.
“As we celebrate the return of these Americans, we also remember those who did not return. I call on the Iranian regime to give a full account of what happened to Bob Levinson. The Levinson family deserves answers,” Biden wrote.
The Biden administration has said that the Iranians who were released in the deal are not a threat to U.S. national security, according to the Associated Press.
The news agency quoted Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, who is in New York this week for the U.N. General Assembly, as saying that the deal is “a step in the direction of a humanitarian action between us and America.”
“It can definitely help in building trust,” Raisi reportedly told the media in New York City.
Nour News identified two of the released Iranians as Mehrdad Ansari, an Iranian sentenced by the U.S. to 63 months in prison in 2021 for obtaining equipment that could be used in missiles, electronic warfare, nuclear weapons and other military gear, and Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani, an Iranian charged in 2021 over allegedly unlawfully exporting laboratory equipment to Iran.
The $5.9 billion in cash released to Iran represents money South Korea owed Iran — but had not yet paid – for oil purchased before the U.S. imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019. The U.S. maintains that the money will be held in restricted accounts to be used only for humanitarian goods, such as medicine and food. Those transactions are currently allowed under American sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic over its advancing nuclear program.
Fox News Anders Hagstrom, Michael Lee and the Associated Press contributed to this report.