Iran: Americans contacted us for a prisoner swap

Senior Iranian official says unnamed Americans have contacted Iran for a deal to swap Jason Rezaian for other detainees.

Ben Ariel ,

The United States and Iran
The United States and Iran

Unnamed Americans have contacted Iran for a deal to swap Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian for other unspecified detainees, a senior Iranian official said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

"Some Americans contact us sometimes, asking us to exchange him with other detainees, but the sentence has not been announced yet," said judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, quoted by Iran's Fars news agency.

He did not specify which detainees could be under consideration nor give any other details of what the Americans could have in mind for a swap with Rezaian.

Rezaian, a joint American-Iranian citizen and a correspondent for The Washington Post, was arrested in July 2014 and accused of spying.

Following a closed-door trial, Iran announced in late November that Rezaian was sentenced to a prison term. The length of the prison term was not specified.

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani has in the past hinted at the possibility that Rezaian could be freed in exchange for Iranian prisoners in the United States. Other Iranian officials have played down the possibility of such a swap.

In Washington, a senior White House official, asked for comment on the Iranian official’s remarks, said, "We're not going to comment on every public remark by Iranian officials concerning our detained and missing citizens.  We continue to make all efforts to bring our citizens home."

Iran has accused Rezaian, 39, of collecting confidential information and giving it to hostile governments, writing a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama and acting against national security. The Post has dismissed the charges as absurd.

Four other U.S. citizens - Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, American-Lebanese IT expert Nizar Zakka and U.S.-Iranian businessman Siamak Namazi - are also believed to be held in Iran.

Robert Levinson, a private investigator, disappeared there in 2007.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently said he would work for the release of three Iranian Americans, including Rezaian, if the United States would free Iranians held in U.S. prisons for violating sanctions against their country.