US, Iran Deny Reports of Prisoner Swap

Both Washington and Tehran rush to reject Iranian news agency's claim of a prisoner swap deal.

Tova Dvorin ,

Amir Hekmati (file)
Amir Hekmati (file)
Reuters

Both Washington and Tehran have rushed to deny reports of a prisoner swap between the two countries, the Associated Press reports Wednesday. 

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency report Tuesday quoted Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, the lawyer of dual US-Iranian citizen Amir Hekmati, 31, as saying that a swap had been arranged with Washington via the Swiss embassy. 

Hekmati, who was arrested in 2011, put on trial and found guilty of spying for the CIA. Hekmati’s family and the U.S. government say the dual U.S.-Iranian citizen is not a spy and went to Iran to visit his grandmother.

He was subsequently sentenced to death, a penalty that was recently overturned and reduced to 10 years in prison. Both the White House and US Secretary of State John Kerry have publicly called on Iran to release him. 

Both Iranian and US officials have emphatically denied rumors of a swap, however. 

“Those reports are not accurate,” US State Department Spokesperson Jeff Rathke said Tuesday. “The U.S. government has not proposed a prisoner exchange for Mr. Hekmati. It’s not true.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham also flatly denied the report.

The rumors surface after a year of the US participating in several unprecedented prisoner swaps, including the trade of former US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was traded for five top Taliban terrorists in May, and the recent swap of Jewish American contractor Alan Gross from Cuban prison in exchange for three Cubans held in the United States for spying.



top