Sunday, January 17, 2016

U.S. and Iran release Iranian and American prisoners, Obama pardons Iranians charged with sanctions violations

    Sunday, January 17, 2016   No comments

An Iranian analyst said the US was mainly seeking to free Jason Rezaian through its Saturday prisoners swap deal with Iran that also included freedom of three other US citizens in Iran and 7 Iranian inmates in the United States.

Mehdi Mohammadi wrote on his Instagram page on Sunday that 4 US inmates were freed yesterday in exchange for a package of concessions by the American side.

According to him, Jason Rezaian was the main person who was freed on Saturday and the US agreed to make the concessions for his sake and not the three other inmates.

Mohammadi said the day when Rezaian was detained, many in the West complained that he was a simple journalist and shouldn’t have been arrested, "but the US non-stop efforts to free Rezaian showed that he wasn’t just a journalist".

He appreciated the Iranian security forces for their timely reaction to threats, and said the prompt action of the Iranian intelligence forces provided Iran with a major chance "to force the enemy to make concessions".

4 Iranian-American nationals who were held for various charges in Iran were freed under a prisoners swap deal on Saturday. A fifth inmate was also released separately.

"Based on an approval of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and the overall interests of the Islamic Republic, four Iranian prisoners with dual-nationality were freed today within the framework of a prisoner swap deal," the office of Tehran prosecutor said.

The four Iranian-Americans, Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmat, Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosrawi Roudsari who were jailed in Iran on various charges in recent years, have all been released.

Some English and Persian websites have wrongly named Siamak Namazi as the fourth inmate freed under the deal today. Namazi remains in jail for his charges are financial, and not political. The freed prisoners are due to fly to Switzerland from Iran on a Swiss flight.

Meantime, a US official said a fifth dual nationality prisoner would also be released by Iran separate from the swap deal. Later reports named this fifth prisoner as Mathew Trevithick.

According to the swap deal, the US has also freed 7 Iranian-Americans who were held for sanctions-related charges and demanded the Interpol to stop prosecution of 14 other Iranian nationals.

The 7 Iranian inmates freed by the US have been named as Nader Modanlou, Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afqahi, Arash Ghahreman, Touraj Faridi, Nima Golestaneh and Ali Sabounchi.

The 14 Iranians who were accused in the United States of sanctions violations and had charges dropped on Saturday under the prisoner deal include Saeed Jamili, Jalal Salami, Matin Sadeqi, Alireza Moazzemi Goudarzi, Mohammad Abbas Mohammadi, Kourosh Taherkhani, Sajjad Farhadi, Seyed Ahmad Abtahi, Gholamreza Mahmoudi, Hamid Arabnejad, Ali Moattar, Mohammad Ali She'rbaf, Amin Ravan and Behrouz Dolatzadeh.

A senior Iranian legislator citing an IRGC report on Rezaian's case said in October that he had been imprisoned for his attempts to help the US Senate to advance its regime change plots in Iran.

In late July 2014, Iran confirmed that four journalists, including Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, had been arrested and were being held for questioning.

Rezaian's wife Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper, the National, was also arrested at that time, but she and two others were released later.

According to the Constitution, the Judiciary is independent from the government in Iran.

Some reports earlier this year had spoken of a potential prisoner swap between Iran and US following the Vienna nuclear deal in July. source

...

Obama pardons Iranians charged with sanctions violations

President Barack Obama pardoned three Iranians charged with sanctions violations as U.S. authorities moved to drop charges or commute prison sentences on Saturday for five other men, part of a stunning and secretly negotiated deal that saw four Americans freed by Iran.

The deal removed a major source of acrimony standing in the way of further rapprochement between the long-time foes, but opened the Obama administration to immediate criticism that it had agreed to a bad deal that would set a dangerous precedent.

It also represented a reversal of the past five years of U.S. policy, during which U.S. law enforcement prosecuted illicit trade with Iran, even in common consumer items, as a threat to national security.

The prisoner deal with Iran came the same day major powers began to lift economic sanctions against Tehran in exchange for steps to curb its nuclear program, implementing an international nuclear agreement. 
source

Ed Isr

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