Iran requests Qatar to broker the release of dual national prisoners

Source: Tehran Times

The Gulf state managed to help secure the release of political prisoners in various countries, including Libya and Myanmar.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has reportedly requested Qatar’s help in brokering the release of Iranian-Americans and Iranian-Europeans jailed in Tehran, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Sources with knowledge informed the news agency this week that the Iranian official asked Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to help mediate the release of the dual-Iranian citizens, during his visit to Doha on 11 January.

The sources however did not provide any information on whether Qatar granted Iran’s request.

In November last year, Qatar helped facilitate the release of American journalist Danny Fenster from Myanmar’s prison after being sentenced to 11 years for incitement.

Qatar also helped release seven Turkish citizens during the same month, after they were held for two years by Libyan forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar.

Iran has been arresting dozens of dual nationals and foreigners in recent years for political reasons, with rights groups accusing the Islamic Republic of using the detainees for diplomatic leverage—including the revival of the 2015 nuclear accord.

Qatari FM lands in Iran to discuss regional politics

Tehran has long denied holding the prisoners for political reasons.

On Monday, Iran ruled out using the prisoner swap as a precondition to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) amidst ongoing talks in Vienna aimed at restoring the historic accord.

“Iran has never accepted any preconditions by the United States […] the US official’s comments on the release of US prisoners in Iran is for domestic use,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, told a weekly news conference, as quoted by Reuters.

The Iranian official also told the news agency on Sunday that reaching an agreement with the US over the JCPOA would remain unlikely unless Tehran releases four American citizens.

Iran further reiterated that it is ready for a prisoner exchange with the US.

Qatar-Tehran ties

On Thursday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani landed in Tehran to meet with his Iranian counterpart and other officials to strengthen the two countries bilateral ties, and review regional developments.

Developments in the Vienna talks are reportedly on the meeting’s agenda as the P5+1, comprised of China, France, Russia, the UK, Germany and the US, discuss the resumption of the nuclear accord.

Amir-Abdollahian’s visit also comes amid heightened tensions between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition.

Doha has been on the frontline of de-escalation efforts in ongoing tensions across the region, having participated in various meetings and talks with world powers throughout recent years.

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