CT resident among prisoners released by Iran

A Connecticut man was among a group of five prisoners released by Iran who arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 10:10 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:19 AM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A Connecticut man was among a group of five prisoners who were released by Iran as part of a swap with the U.S.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that Morad Tahbaz was wrongfully detained in Iran for more than 5 years.

Tahbaz and the others arrived on U.S. soil on Tuesday morning.

“These Americans have been suffering but terrible ordeal, I think you all know that,” said John Kirby, National Security Council Spokesperson. “They were held in the Evin prison, under ghastly conditions, and that we have been working very, very hard to bring them home to their families just as soon as possible.”

Tahbaz was arrested in 2018 on Espionage charges while on a trip to Iran.

Tahbaz was arrested in 2018 on Espionage charges while on a trip to Iran. He holds citizenship in the U.S., UK, and Iran. He’s a businessman and conservationist.

“I am relieved that Morad Tahbaz is now free after many long years of unspeakably cruel, inexcusable imprisonment. Morad’s release is a testament to the courage and strength of his family and supporters, who never surrendered fighting for his freedom,” Blumenthal said. “I share their relief that his serious medical condition may now be treated, and his well-deserved liberty and rights have been restored.”

U.S. officials confirmed that Tahbaz, and the four other prisoners, flew out of Tehran on Monday.

“We are overjoyed and relieved to finally have Morad and Vida free and on their way back home after six years,” said Tahbaz’s family. “We are grateful to President Biden and his Administration for making the difficult but necessary decision to prioritize the lives of American citizens over politics.”

Flight-tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press showed a Qatar Airways flight take off from Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport, which had been used for exchanges in the past. Iranian state media soon after said the flight had left Tehran.

Officials said that the exchange was supposed to take place after nearly $6 billion in once-frozen Iranian assets reached Qatar. That was a key element of the deal.

There are some on Capitol Hill that are criticizing the decision to release the money to Iran.

“The administration says this is limited to humanitarian aid. But they also acknowledged that funds are fungible, which means they can use - move them around and will aid them in being able to do other things,” said Rep. Michael Turner (R) Ohio.

Others said this decision will incentivize Iran and other countries to take more Americans as prisoners hoping to get a ransom.