Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post journalist who’s one of four Americans being released from prison in Iran as part of a deal coinciding with the news that sanctions are being lifted.
Another American, student Matthew Trevithick, was also released by Iran but was not part of the original deal.
In return the US is pardoning seven Iranians facing trial or prison for violating the sanctions when they were in force.
White House officials described the deal as humanitarian gesture as opposed to a spy swap.
“This was a deal that was done in order for Iran to come out from international sanctions,” said Robert Mahoney, of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “And so it’s not necessarily an indication that press freedom and the conditions of journalists will get better in Iran.”
Referring to the amount of money Iran could realise from the lifting of sanctions republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump was critical of the deal:
“So, essentially they get 150 billion plus seven and we get four…er..that doesn’t sound too good.”
The lifting of sanctions and prisoner swap are the latest indications of the thaw in relations between Iran and the West.
Earlier in the week Iran released a group of US sailors after accepting that their patrol boats had slipped into Iranian waters accidentally.