A look at the prisoners Iran and US have identified previously in an exchange
Sep 18, 2023, 7:02 AM
Iran and the United States have previously identified eight of the 10 prisoners in an exchange Monday. Here is some information about them:
Siamak Namazi, an energy executive, was arrested in Iran in 2015. He had advocated closer ties between Iran and the West.
Iran sentenced both Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, to 10 years in the notorious Evin Prison on what the U.S. and U.N. say are trumped-up spying charges.
The father was placed under house arrest for medical reasons in 2018 but prevented from leaving Iran despite his family’s pleas that he travel to undergo heart surgery. He ultimately left Iran in October 2022.
Siamak Namazi is the longest-held Iranian-American held in Tehran. He appealed to President Joe Biden in an essay in The New York Times in 2022 as American and Iranian nuclear negotiators met for indirect talks in Doha, Qatar, demanding he intervene to “end this nightmare.”
The murky espionage charges against Iranian-American businessman Emad Sharghi came to light in early 2021, when an Iranian court announced that the venture capitalist had been sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison.
His family says Iran had cleared him of spying charges in December 2019 after jailing and interrogating him for months. Iran says security forces then caught Sharghi on the country’s northwestern border and rearrested him as he tried to flee Iran while free on bail.
Morad Tahbaz, a British-American conservationist of Iranian descent, was meant to be released from prison on furlough as part of Iran’s deal with the United Kingdom to resolve a long-running debt dispute in March 2022.
That agreement freed two high-profile detainees, charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, who flew home to London. But Tahbaz remained stuck in Iran. Reports soon emerged that he was sent back to prison despite the furlough promise.
Tahbaz was caught in a dragnet targeting environmental activists while visiting Iran in January 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Iran meanwhile has identified five prisoners it seeks released. They are:
— Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, an Iranian charged in 2021 with allegedly failing to register as a foreign agent on Iran’s behalf while lobbying U.S. officials on issues like nuclear policy;
— Mehrdad Ansari, an Iranian sentenced to 63 months in prison in 2021 for obtaining equipment that could be used in missiles, electronic warfare, nuclear weapons and other military gear;
— Amin Hasanzadeh, an Iranian and permanent resident of the United States whom prosecutors charged in 2019 with allegedly stealing engineering plans from his employer to send to Iran;
— Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani, an Iranian charged in 2021 over allegedly unlawfully exporting laboratory equipment to Iran; and
— Kambiz Attar Kashani, an Iranian-American sentenced in February to 30 months in prison for purchasing “sophisticated, top-tier U.S. electronic equipment and software” through front companies in the United Arab Emirates.