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US seeking release of fourth American held in Iran

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the administration was working to bring home "four unjustly detained Americans" in Iran.
A picture taken on May 18, 2017 shows the skyline of northern Tehran from the "Nature" bridge in the capital Tehran on the eve of the presidential elections.

WASHINGTON — A fourth US citizen has been detained in Iran, several sources confirmed to Al-Monitor on Friday, potentially complicating the Biden administration’s pursuit of a prisoner exchange with Tehran.

More than two years after the United States and Iran began indirect talks over a prisoner swap, Tehran was known to be holding three Iranian-Americans — Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz — on charges US officials say are baseless.

On Friday, five sources with knowledge of the situation told Al-Monitor that the United States was seeking the release of a fourth individual detained by Tehran. Multiple sources said the detainee is a male dual US-Iranian national, with one source saying he was arrested in late 2022.

Experts speculated that actors within Iran’s system had tried to sabotage the prisoner talks by arresting an additional American. It’s also possible that Iran’s negotiators sought another US citizen to restore balance to the negotiations after releasing a fourth American, Baquer Namazi, on humanitarian grounds in October 2022.

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