Iran is transferring four American prisoners to house arrest, an American lawyer said Thursday, in a development that comes as Tehran for months has indicated it is open to a prisoner swap with Washington.
The prisoners are being moved from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison to house arrest at an undisclosed hotel where they will be held under guard by Iranian officials, human rights lawyer Jared Genser said in a statement Thursday.
Genser identified three of the prisoners as Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz. Genser did not identify the fourth individual.
Earlier Thursday, the three and the unidentified fourth American hostage reportedly were brought together to the Prison Office, according to the lawyer. There, the four prisoners were informed they would be transferred to house arrest.
“The move by Iran of the American hostages from Evin Prison to an expected house arrest is an important development,” said Genser, pro bono counsel to Siamak Namazi.
“While I hope this will be the first step to their ultimate release, this is at best the beginning of the end and nothing more. But there are simply no guarantees about what happens from here.”
Genser added that a fifth American — an unnamed woman whose detention was just recently made public — is already under house arrest.
Babak Namazi, Siamak’s brother, said he was grateful that his brother is being moved out of Evin Prison, which is infamous as an Iranian site for the detention of political prisoners.
“While this is a positive change, we will not rest until Siamak and others are back home; we continue to count the days until this can happen,” Babak Namazi said in a statement. “We have suffered tremendously and indescribably for eight horrific years and wish only to be reunited again as a family.”
Namazi was arrested in 2015, when he was on a business trip to Iran. He was charged with having “relations with a hostile state,” referring to the United States. Namazi is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen.
Tahbaz, an environmentalist, and Shargi, a businessman, were first arrested in 2018. They are also dual U.S.-Iranian citizens.
The U.S. State Department has declared that all three are wrongfully detained.
VOA State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching contributed to this report.