Five Americans released from Iranian detention this week returned to U.S. soil Tuesday morning after a first stop in Doha, Qatar, a U.S. official told CNN.
Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz and Siamak Namazi, as well as two Americans who have not been publicly named arrived in the Washington, D.C., area after being released Monday as part of a broader deal that included the United States unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian funds.
Released Americans will have the opportunity to participate in a Department of Defense program known as PISA (Post Isolation Support Activities) to help them acclimate to normal life now that they are back in the United States .
The return of the five Americans, all of whom had been wrongly designated as detained, caps a significant diplomatic breakthrough after years of complicated indirect negotiations between the United States and Iran, which does not maintain formal diplomatic relations.
The group left Tehran aboard a Qatari government plane bound for Doha on Monday, before taking off for the Washington, D.C., area to reunite with their families, according to a senior administration official. Namazi’s mother, Effie Namazi, and Tahbaz’s wife, Vida Tahbaz, who had previously been unable to leave Iran, were also on the flight from Iran to Doha, the official said Monday.
After a year of indirect negotiations, the deal began to come together in Doha about seven months ago and the first tangible public steps took place about five weeks ago, when four of the Americans were placed under house arrest. The fifth American was already under house arrest.
President Joe Biden celebrated their release Monday “after enduring years of agony, uncertainty and suffering.” But while the release marks the latest high-profile deal negotiated by his administration to secure the release of Americans wrongly considered detained abroad, Biden drew criticism from some Republicans who likened the deal to a “payment of ransom “.
A senior Biden administration official said Monday that the deal “has not changed our relationship with Iran in any way,” emphasizing that the United States will continue to work to hold Iran accountable for its violations. human rights and to limit its nuclear program.
This story has been updated with additional information.