Iran transferred four American prisoners from a prison in Tehran to house arrest on Thursday, a lawyer for one of the prisoners said.
Jared Genser, an international human rights lawyer, said in a statement that hostages Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz, along with a fourth unidentified American, have been placed under house arrest from Evin Prison.
Genser, representing Namazi, said the Namazi family has received visual confirmation of the release towards house arrest.
The name of the fourth detainee moved from prison to hourly detention cannot be confirmed, according to the statement.
According to the lawyer, a fifth hostage may also have been placed under house arrest.
Genser said the Biden administration was notified of the move on Wednesday.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement that the US was “relieved” to hear the news and was in contact with the families.
“While we welcome the news of these individuals being released from prison to house arrest, they should never have been locked up in the first place,” Miller said. “We continue to work diligently to bring these people home to their loved ones. They must be able to leave Iran and reunite with their loved ones as soon as possible.”
Genser said the move to house arrest was a “significant development” in the case.
“While I hope this is the first step towards their eventual release, at best this is the beginning of the end and nothing more,” he said. “But there are just no guarantees about what happens from here.”
NBC News reported that the four hostages will be released in exchange for the release of $6 billion in assets blocked by US sanctions.
In a statement, National Security Council spokesman Adrienne Watson said negotiations are ongoing and declined to comment further on their release.
Namazi, Shargi and Tahbaz hold dual Iranian-American citizenship and are being held on espionage charges.
Namazi has been held in Iran since 2015 on charges the US calls misleading. His father was also detained on similar charges, but was released last year.
Iranian officials hinted in the spring that negotiations were drawing to a close.
Namazi’s brother, Babak Namazi, said in a statement that he was “grateful that Siamak and the other Americans in Iran are out of Evin Prison and under house arrest.”
“Although this is a positive change, we will not rest until Siamak and others are back home,” said Babak Namazi. “We will continue to count the days until this can happen. We have suffered immensely and indescribably for eight horrific years and just want to be reunited as a family.”
— Updated 2:04 PM
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