Freed Iranians in historic ‘prisoner swap’ did not actually leave the US

Published January 20th, 2016 - 11:13 GMT
It turns out they would rather just stay in the US than go to Iran. (Twitter)
It turns out they would rather just stay in the US than go to Iran. (Twitter)

In a normal course of events, a prisoner swap entails both sides handing over detainees to be returned to the other country. This was not the case with the recent Iran-US prisoner swap which made headlines last week, according to ABC News. Citing US officials, ABC News claimed that none of the freed Iranians wished to go to Iran, electing to stay in the US instead.

The report states that both countries had agreed to fly their prisoners to Geneva, Switzerland, for the exchange, however the plane flying from the US was empty of Iranians. The plane which left Tehran on Sunday held three of the four released US prisoners, with the fourth reportedly deciding to remain in Iran.

ABC News reported that a plane took off from somewhere on the US east coast on Sunday as well, but not a single one of the seven Iranian prisoners boarded. Six of them have dual US-Iranian citizenship, which may explain their ability and desire to stay in the US.

The men had been charged with crimes relating to violating trade embargoes on Iran. Three of them were caught in an alleged plan to illegally export equipment and supplies which had military purposes to Iran. One of these men was Tooraj Faridi, and his attorney has claimed that he plans to remain in the US.

“Mr. Faridi is here in Houston,” the attorney for Faridi told ABC News. “He has not been in Iran in years, has no plans to go there, and will remain here at his home. He is an American and will remain in America.”

The attorney for another one of the men, Khosrow Afghahi, explained his client’s plans in a statement to ABC News.

"Right now, Mr. Afghahi is spending some precious time with his family in the United States...and probably getting the first good night sleep and hot cup of coffee he’s had in nine months...As far as next steps, the family will be making all those decisions as soon as possible.”

There appears to be no official confirmation from Iran about the whereabouts of all of the prisoners, or whether any will travel to Iran.

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