Iran FM Calls for Prisoner Swap With US

Zarif says he's already authorized a negotiate such a deal

During a high profile talk in New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif offered publicly to negotiate a direct prisoner swap with the United States, saying he has been authorized to work out such a deal.

Zarif was very straightforward about the need for such a deal, saying “we believe their charges are phony. The United States believes charges against these people in Iran are phony,” suggesting that instead of arguing over that, the two countries should just exchange.

Zarif had raised the possibility of swaps before, but with more cautious language, suggesting he may have just been feeling out the idea. Now, he’s saying he’s already got it approved on his side, and just needs the US to sign off.

The State Department confirmed it was “aware” of the offer, but did not say anything beyond that. In general, the detainees held by the US are accused of violating US sanctions, and it is unclear if the US would be willing to make such a trade, if only because a prisoner swap would ease tensions, and most of the administration seems to prefer to worsen tensions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of