Iranian media reported on Saturday that the Iranian government has released four US dual national prisoners including Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent who was charged with espionage, as part of a prisoner swap deal with the United States.
According to Iranian sources, the released Americans also include Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Idaho, Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Michigan, and Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi.
The Tehran prosecutor's office said the inmates were freed "within the framework of exchanging prisoners," as Iranian state run news agency IRNA reported that the United States had also freed seven Iranians.
IRNA named the seven Iranians as Nader Modanlo, Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afghahi, Arash Ghahreman, Tooraj Faridi, Nima Golestaneh and Ali Sabouni.
A US official confirmed on Saturday that the US granted clemency to seven Iranians and dropped charges against 14 more in exchange for the release of four Americans held in Iran, a US official said Saturday.
"We offered clemency to seven Iranians, six of whom are dual US-Iranian citizens, who had been convicted or are pending trial in the United States,” the official said.
“The United States also removed any Interpol red notices and dismissed any charges against 14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful," he continued.
A US official said Iran has also released a fifth American, identified as Matthew Trevithick in a move unrelated to the prisoner swap process, and promised to help the US find out whereabouts of the former FBI agent Robert Levinson who went missing in Iran almost nine years ago.
The announcement of the exchange came ahead of the expected lifting of international sanctions on Iran later on Saturday as part of a landmark deal signed between major powers and Iran to curb Tehran's nuclear program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report is expected to certify that Iran has met all commitments under the deal signed on July 14 in Vienna.
The IAEA's green light means that a raft of US, EU and UN sanctions on Iran can be lifted, allowing oil exports to resume and opening up the country to business.
If the formal implementation of the agreement is announced on Saturday, Iran will gain access to over 100 billion dollars in assets frozen abroad.