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American Citizens Released in Prisoner Exchange with Iran Return Home

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Joe Biden

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a significant diplomatic development, five American citizens who were detained in Iran have been successfully released and are on their way back to the United States.

The five Americans, along with two family members, arrived safely in Doha, Qatar on Monday after departing from Iran. This release comes as part of a prisoner exchange agreement between the United States and Iran, accompanied by the return of $6 billion in frozen funds to Iran.

A White House official commented on this, stating, “The president is making five families whole again.” The $6 billion in frozen funds, a substantial part of this exchange, arrived in Qatar on Sunday night, leading to Iran’s decision to release the American detainees. Qatar has played a crucial role as an intermediary for negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

President Biden, in a statement on Monday, expressed his satisfaction with the successful exchange and revealed that two of the American citizens involved had requested that their identities remain undisclosed. He also used the opportunity to call upon the Iranian regime to provide a full account of the disappearance of Bob Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran.

“The Levinson family deserves answers,” President Biden stated. He further announced sanctions against former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence under the Levinson Act for their involvement in wrongful detentions.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken held a press conference later on Monday to address the release and answer questions from reporters. Blinken expressed his relief at the return of the American citizens and emphasized the U.S. government’s dedication to punishing countries that unlawfully imprison U.S. citizens.

He clarified that the prisoner swap was negotiated separately from discussions regarding the Iran nuclear deal, cautioning against interpreting the exchange as an indicator of progress in the nuclear negotiations, though there are many skeptics raising concern across social media platforms.

The Biden administration has underscored that Qatar will retain control of the $6 billion that is being unfrozen and will allocate it to Iran exclusively for humanitarian purposes. However, some Iran watchdogs have voiced concerns, claiming that this move is insufficient.

According to reports from Fox News, Benham Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, stated, “The Islamic Republic must be beaming now. Despite rhetoric from Washington about supporting the Iranian people, in practice with the waiver and random payment, the Biden administration is now effectively helping Tehran signal that no matter what the regime does, it will not be met with meaningful pressure.”

Furthermore President Donald J Trump took to Truth social Monday commenting on the deal current President Joe Biden made stating, “This absolutely ridiculous 6 Billion Dollar Hostage Deal with Iran has set a terrible PRECEDENT for the future. Buckel up, you are going to see some terrible things start to happen. The 3 years ago highly respected USA has become a laughingstock all over the WORLD. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. VOTE TRUMP!!!”

The release of these American citizens and the accompanying fund transfer mark a questionable development in U.S.-Iran relations. The path forward remains complex and uncertain as both nations grapple with long-standing issues and ongoing negotiations surrounding the Iran nuclear deal.

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International

VP Kamala Harris publicly mourns Palestinians killed in hostage rescue operation

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Screen Shot 2021 06 07 at 3.24.24 PM

Vice President Kamala Harris mourned the Palestinians in Gaza who were killed in the successful Israeli hostage rescue operation this weekend during an address delivered over the weekend.

Israeli forces say Hamas intentionally kept the hostages in a “civilian environment.” They also said even the Palestinians who were holding the hostages were also “civilians.”

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari of the IDF said Hamas has been holding hostages inside civilian buildings, including the locations where Israeli forces rescued Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Shlomi Ziv, 41, and Andrey Kozlov, 27.

“Before I begin, I just say a few words about the morning which I know weighs heavily on all of our hearts,” she said.

“On Oct. 7, Hamas committed a brutal massacre of 1,200 innocent people and abducted 250 hostages,” she continued. “Thankfully, four of those hostages were reunited with their families tonight. And we mourn all of the innocent lives that have been lost in Gaza, including those tragically killed today.”

The Israeli operation retrieved four hostages who were taken into Gaza by Hamas on Oct. 7. Harris, speaking before the Michigan Democratic Party, celebrated their retrieval but spent more time lamenting the deaths of Palestinians killed in the operation, many of whom Israel has described as terrorists.

“We have been working every day to bring an end to this conflict in a way that ensures Israel is secure, brings home all hostages, ends ongoing suffering for Palestinian people and ensures that Palestinians can enjoy their right to self-determination, dignity and freedom,” Harris added. “As President Biden said last week, it is time for this war to end.”

Fox News reports that Hamas-run authorities in Gaza claim over 270 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation, though they make no distinction between militants and innocents. Israeli forces claim the number was fewer than 100.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also confirmed reports on Sunday that some number of innocents appeared to have been killed in the operation.

“We the United States are not in a position today to make a definitive statement about [the death toll],” Sullivan said in a Sunday interview with CNN. “But we do know this: innocent people were tragically killed in this operation. The exact number we don’t know, but innocent people were killed.”

“Every day that we see more innocent people lost is another horrible, awful, tragic day,” he added.

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