The Iranian deputy foreign minister expressed his happiness Monday after five Iranians in US custody were released in a high-profile deal negotiated by Washington to secure the release of Americans deemed wrongly detained by Iran.
“We are extremely happy for the release of five Iranians who were imprisoned by the U.S. for alleged evading of unlawful and inhuman U.S. sanctions. We congrats their return to their loved ones,” Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, said on social media platform X.
“Defending the rights of Iranians across the world, [specifically] those who are unjustly deprived of liberty for allegedly evading of unlawful anti-Iran sanctions, is one permanent item in the agenda of Iran’s diplomacy,” he wrote.
He went on to thank Qatar and Oman for their “important roles in facilitating the process that led to the release of Iranian citizens.”
More context: The five Americans freed from Iran have departed Doha, Qatar, and are on a flight en route to the United States. They are expected to arrive in the US later Monday.
The five, all of whom had been designated as wrongfully detained, were freed as part of a wider deal that includes the US unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian funds.
Their release represents a significant diplomatic breakthrough after years of complicated indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran. The US and Iran do not have formal diplomatic ties. Relations further plummeted under the Trump administration, when the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and pursued a “maximum pressure” approach to Tehran. In the years since, efforts to constrain Iran’s growing nuclear program have been unsuccessful.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Mostafa Salem, Becky Anderson and Rob Picheta contributed to this report.