A plane with five Americans who were imprisoned in Iran for a long time has arrived in the United States after a prisoner swap that has caused disagreement and controversy.
They landed in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, near Washington DC on Tuesday morning.
They first flew from Tehran to Doha. In Doha, they got on another plane going to the US.
On Monday, the final part of the agreement was completed when $6 billion of Iranian money, which was being held in South Korea, was transferred to banks in Doha.
The prisoners who were let go hold citizenship in both Iran and the United States. Five Iranians who were being held by the US have been set free. Out of these five, three decided not to go back to Iran.
The airplane with the five Americans arrived at Davison Army Airfield just before 05:30 in the morning (09:30 GMT). They had a very emotional and tearful meeting with their family members on the runway.
The people’s loved ones and friends waved small American flags as they left the airplane.
“The bad dream is finally finished,” a family member of Siamak Namazi, one of the released Americans, said. “We haven’t experienced this moment in more than eight years. ” This is amazing.
“It is the start of a very long journey towards getting better and feeling better,” a spokesperson for the family said.
Also, there were two family members, Roger Carstens and Abram Paley, on the plane. Roger Carstens is a US presidential representative and Abram Paley is a deputy representative for Iran. Both of them saw the people who were released from detention in Doha.
During a speech at Fort Belvoir, Mr. Carstens told the former detainees to use the help that the US military is giving them after leaving isolation. He said that he believes they will keep fighting to bring more Americans back home.
US officials have always said that Iran is holding five people captive just to gain political power
The Americans include a 51-year-old businessman named Mr. Namazi who has been in Tehran’s Evin prison for almost eight years. There is also a businessman named Emad Shargi, 59, and an environmentalist named Morad Tahbaz, 67, who is also a British citizen.
The other two prisoners did not want to give their names.
The five Iranians who were freed as part of the agreement had been mainly jailed in the United States for breaking US sanctions.
US President Joe Biden expressed his support for the prisoner exchange on Monday. He mentioned that the Americans who were in prison would finally be reunited with their loved ones after facing a lot of pain, doubt, and hardship for many years.
At the same time, Mr. Biden promised to keep punishing Iran for their harmful actions in the area.
“And as we greet our fellow citizens returning home, I want to remind all Americans again about the significant dangers of going to Iran,” he said. “Do not go to that place if you have an American passport. ”
The president said some things at the same time that the US said they will punish the former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Iran’s intelligence ministry.
One of the prisoners who was let go, Siamak Namazi, thanked everyone for not letting the world forget about him. He acknowledged that he wouldn’t be free today if it wasn’t for their support.
Thank you very much from my heart. Thank you for speaking up for me when I couldn’t do it myself and for making sure my screams were heard when I had the courage to shout from Evin Prison.
South Korea owed money to Iran for buying oil before the Trump administration banned these transactions in 2019. The money was released to Iran as part of the deal. The US has stated that the money that has been given can only be used for helping people in need.
The act of giving back the money has caused arguments and disagreement in the US. Some of Mr. Biden’s political enemies have strongly criticized this action.
Some important Republicans are worried that Iran will give money to support other groups in the Middle East.
The US government has minimized or played down these worries. Last week, a person from the State Department named Matthew Miller said that the US treasury department is closely watching the money and that Washington can make sure it is used correctly.
A top official in the government also informed journalists that the US plans to prevent Iran from using the funds for anything other than helping people in need.