Iranian foreign ministry says prisoner swap with US will take place Monday
A spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry confirmed a prisoner swap with the United States will take place Monday.
Nasser Kanaani said during a news conference broadcast on state television that $6 billion in unfrozen Iranian assets, which had been a key condition to allow the prisoner swap, had been transferred successfully from South Korea to Qatar.
“We witnessed freezing of parts Iranian assets in some countries including South Korea,” Kanaani said. “As part of our policy of active foreign diplomacy, fortunately Iran’s frozen assets in South Korea were released, and God willing, today, the assets will start to be fully controlled by the government and the nation.”
Kanaani noted the prisoner swap would take place Monday, and the five American detainees in Iran would be released to Americans “based on their will.”
“On the subject of the prisoner swap, it will happen today and five prisoners, citizens of the Islamic Republic, will be released from the prisons in the U.S.,” Kanaani added. “Five imprisoned citizens who were in Iran will be given to the U.S. side reciprocally, based on their will. We expect these two issues [to] fully take place based on the agreement.”
Tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press indicated a Qatar Airways Airbus A320 landed Monday morning at the airport where previous prisoner releases have taken place. A separate airport is used primarily for commercial flights.
Reuters, meanwhile, reported a Qatari airplane was waiting in Iran on Monday to fly out the five U.S. detainees, who had been moved to house arrest as a way to signal good-faith intentions.
“A Qatari aircraft is on standby in Iran waiting to fly five soon-to-be released U.S. citizens and two relatives to Doha on Monday morning,” a source “briefed on the matter” told the news agency.
U.S. officials have identified three of the four U.S. prisoners set to be included in the swap — Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz — but so far have declined to name the fourth and fifth.
The Associated Press contributed.