This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran is prepared for a full exchange of prisoners with the United States, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a virtual address to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
In response to a question about whether Tehran would free Iranian-American father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, Zarif said on September 21 that the only way for him to have influence on the courts is through a swap for Iranians he claimed the United States is holding unjustly.
“Let’s not put one person in front of another. Let’s do a universal deal. I repeat, we can exchange all prisoners, period,” he said.
Washington has long demanded that Iran release U.S. citizens including Baquer and Siamak Namazi, who were jailed in 2016 and 2015, respectively.
Baquer Namazi, the former governor of Khuzestan Province under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was arrested during a trip to Iran to see his imprisoned son.
The United States has exchanged prisoners with Iran before. Navy veteran Michael White, detained in 2018, returned home in June as part of a deal in which the United States allowed an Iranian-American physician Majid Taheri to leave to Iran.
In December 2019, Tehran freed U.S. citizen Xiyue Wang, who had been held for three years on spying charges, in a swap for Iranian Massoud Soleimani, who faced charges of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Tehran denies it holds people on political grounds, and has mostly accused its foreign prisoners of espionage.