Prisoner Swap Brings Joy and Questions
Five Americans unjustly imprisoned in Iran for a years are going home. It's a day U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he is grateful.
"It means that husbands and wives, fathers and children, and grandparents can hug each other again, can see each other again, can be with each other again. So it's a day that I'm grateful for."
The plane carrying the five Americans and two of their relatives touched down in Qatar, which had helped to broker the swap.
Five Iranian nationals held in U.S. custody, who officials said do not pose a threat to U.S. security, are also expected to be released as part of the deal.
The swap gives Tehran access to 6-billion-dollars in South Korean oil purchase payments. It's money in South Korean banks, long frozen under U.S. sanctions. Iran pledged to spend the funds only for humanitarian purposes.
Some republicans are asking questions about negotiating with hostage takers, and freeing the money after the U.S. and Iran are in a dispute about Iran's nuclear program and intentions.
Dr. Gerry Gendlin, professor at Pennwest Edinboro said even with the funds set to move through Qutar, determining what humanitarian purposes are and tracking how the funds are used will be hard to verify.
"They're going to spend the money however they want, and if they spend it on social programs and domestic programs, I guess that's humanitarian, but the bottom line is it will free up other amounts of money to spend on other things---like missiles, drones or supporting actions abroad that are contrary to U.S. interests," Dr. Gendlin said.
To date, the Biden administration has brought home 30 Americans being unjustly detained in places around the world. Secretary Blinken expect the newly freed Americans to help in that continued effort.
"One of the things that I heard in my conversation with our fellow citizens who are now free, is their own determination, their own commitment, their own conviction, to continuing this work, to making sure that other Americans who are unjustly detained anywhere in the world come home," Blinken said.