Iran’s Foreign Ministry claims that 28 Iranians were released or had charges against them dropped as part of an exchange deal with the U.S. that saw five American hostages freed from the regime’s grip. Iran’s claim conflicts with earlier reports that only 21 Iranians were part of the exchange deal.
“An overall number of 28 Iranians were freed or were relieved of judicial restrictions within the framework of the agreement,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said in a press conference in Tehran on Monday.
According to state-controlled Fars News Agency, Ansari did not name the 7 additional Iranians who he said were part of the exchange deal.
The U.S. State Department, however, is sticking by the official reported count.
A State Department official told Breitbart News on Monday afternoon that 21 Iranians were included as part of the deal. 7 Iranians in the United States were released from prison, and 14 Iranians who are not in the U.S. had charges dropped against them as part of the agreement, the official said.
A statement from the State Department released over the weekend read: “We offered clemency to seven Iranians, six of whom are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens, who had been convicted or are pending trial in the United States. The United States also removed any Interpol red notices and dismissed any charges against 14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful.”
Four Americans held by Iran: Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah Khosrawi Roudsari, were released over the weekend, Tehran confirmed. A fifth American, Matthew Trevithick, was also freed from an Iranian prison, according to reports.
The seven Iranians released from American prison were either convicted or accused of purposely violating U.S. sanctions against Tehran.
The fourteen Iranians outside of the country were removed from Interpol’s red list, a notice that seeks the location and arrest of an individual who is sought out for extradition.
Speaking after the Americans had been released from Tehran, President Obama hailed the Iran nuclear deal, pledging the Islamic Republic would not “get its hand on a nuclear bomb.”
“This is a good day because once again we are seeing what’s possible through strong American diplomacy,” Obama said. “These things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom.”
“On the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations, our diplomats at the highest level, including Secretary Kerry, used every meeting to push Iran to release our Americans,” the president added.