A spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council confirmed that Iran had “released from prison five Americans who were unjustly detained and has placed them on house arrest... Negotiations for their eventual release remain ongoing and are delicate. We will, therefore, have little in the way of details to provide about the state of their house arrest or about our efforts to secure their freedom”. Relatedly, a senior Iranian diplomat indicated that “the process of releasing billions of dollars of Iranian assets, illegally seized by the U.S. for several years, has commenced. Tehran has received the guarantee of Washington’s commitments. The release of several Iranians who were illegally detained in America is in this context”. Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored that “Iran will not be receiving any sanctions relief. And in any instance where we would engage in such efforts to bring Americans home from Iran, Iran’s own funds would be used and transferred to restricted accounts such that the monies can only be used for humanitarian purposes, which, as you know, is permitted under our sanctions… We will continue to enforce all of our sanctions”. A White House official the following day elaborated that “the funds can only be accessed for food, medicine, medical equipment… And there will be a rigorous process of due diligence and standards with input from the U.S. Treasury Department”.
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