US denies Iran state media report saying prisoner swap agreed

The US has instantly denied a report by Iran’s state-run broadcaster that offers had been reached between Tehran and Washington that might see prisoners swapped and Tehran obtain billions of {dollars}.

An unnamed official quoted by Iranian state TV stated earlier on Sunday {that a} deal made between the US and Tehran concerned a prisoner swap in trade for the discharge of $7bn in frozen Iranian funds.

The state TV report, quoting the unnamed Iranian official, additionally stated British-Iranian nationwide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe can be launched as soon as Britain had paid off a debt on army tools owed to Tehran.

A British Overseas Workplace official performed down that report.

Iran state TV had quoted the official as saying: “The Individuals accepted to pay $7bn and swap 4 Iranians who had been lively in bypassing sanctions for 4 American spies who’ve served a part of their sentences.” It didn’t title the Iranians that Tehran sought to be freed.

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

“Stories {that a} prisoner swap deal has been reached usually are not true,” Value stated.

“As we now have stated, we all the time elevate the instances of Individuals detained or lacking in Iran. We is not going to cease till we’re capable of reunite them with their households.”

Biden’s chief of employees Ron Klain additionally denied the report on the US, telling CBS’s Face the Nation that “sadly that report is unfaithful. There is no such thing as a settlement to launch these 4 Individuals.”

“We’re working very laborious to get them launched,” Klain stated. “We elevate this with Iran and our interlocutors on a regular basis however to date there’s no settlement.”

Iran’s envoy to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, stated in a while Sunday the report couldn’t be confirmed, including that Tehran has all the time referred to as for a full prisoner trade with Washington.

Tehran holds 4 identified Individuals now in jail. They embody Baquer and Siamak Namazi, environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, and Iranian American businessman Emad Shargi.

The reviews by Iranian state tv come amid a wider energy battle between hardliners and the comparatively average authorities of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. That battle has solely grown sharper as Iran approaches its June 18 presidential election.

The broadcaster lengthy managed by hardliners has aired equally anonymously sourced reviews contradicting diplomats in Vienna making an attempt to barter a return to its nuclear take care of world powers.

It was not instantly clear if Sunday’s report represented one other means to disrupt negotiations by Rouhani officers or sabotage any potential negotiations with the West over frozen funds and prisoner exchanges.

No settlement for launch of UK nationwide

Iranian state tv additionally quoted the official as saying a deal had been reached for the UK to pay 400 million kilos ($553m) to see the discharge of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

British officers downplayed the report. The Overseas Workplace stated the nation continues “to discover choices to resolve this 40-year outdated case and we is not going to remark additional as authorized discussions are ongoing”.

Final week, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to a further yr in jail, her lawyer stated, on costs of spreading “propaganda towards the system” for taking part in a protest in entrance of the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.

That got here after she accomplished a five-year jail sentence in Iran after being convicted of plotting the overthrow of Iran’s authorities, a cost that she, her supporters and rights teams deny.

Whereas employed on the Thomson Reuters Basis, the charitable arm of the information company, she was taken into custody on the Tehran airport in April 2016 as she was returning residence to Britain after visiting household.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, instructed The Related Press information company he was not conscious of any swap within the works.

“We haven’t heard something,” he stated. “In fact we in all probability wouldn’t, however my intuition is to be sceptical at current.”

Earlier on Sunday, UK Overseas Secretary Dominic Raab instructed the BBC that he believed Zaghari-Ratcliffe was being held “unlawfully” by Iran in a means that quantities to “torture”.

“I feel she’s been handled in probably the most abusive, tortuous means,” Raab stated.

“I feel it quantities to torture the way in which she’s been handled and there’s a very clear, unequivocal obligation on the Iranians to launch her and all of those that are being held as leverage instantly and with out situation.”

Negotiations ongoing

Final week, cupboard spokesman Ali Rabiei hinted {that a} prisoner swap between Iran and the US could also be within the works, saying the concept “has all the time been on the agenda” and noting the judiciary has confirmed its “readiness”.

His remarks adopted that of the international ministry spokesman who prompt Tehran hopes to swing a considerable prisoner swap as a part of ongoing negotiations in Vienna. The same swap accompanied the 2015 nuclear take care of world powers.

Tehran is now negotiating with world powers over each it and the US returning to its 2015 nuclear deal, which noticed it restrict its uranium enrichment in trade for the lifting of financial sanctions.

Because the negotiations proceed, Iranian negotiators there have provided encouraging feedback, whereas state TV quoted nameless sources placing maximalist positions.

That even noticed Abbas Araghchi, the Iranian deputy international minister main the talks, provide a rebuke on Twitter final week to Iranian state tv’s English-language arm, Press TV.

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

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