TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran’s foreign ministry has dismissed U.S claims that Tehran and Washington had begun talks over prisoners held in the two countries, saying that there has been no direct talks on any matter.
Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said there are a number of Iranian prisoners in the United States who have been detained on false charges without going through due process, and securing their freedom has been always a priority for the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The spokesman, however, denied any direct contacts with the United States over the situation of prisoners under the new U.S. administration, noting that some messages regarding this issue have been exchanged with American officials via the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which serves as the U.S. interests section, or foreign ministers of other countries.
"Our policy is to secure freedom of our countries’ prisoners in the United States and we are ready for this issue, but we have had no direct talks with the United States,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Washington had begun communication with Tehran over the detention of American citizens.
Speaking with CBS News’ "Face the Nation”, Sullivan said it was a significant priority of the Biden administration to get the detained Americans "safely back home.”
He said that the Biden administration would not accept a long-term proposition where "they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner.”
"We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue,” Sullivan said when asked if the administration had started "hostage negotiations” with Iran.
Following his remarks, an Iranian informed official denied Sullivan’s claim, saying the Iranian government has not entered into any direct talks with the U.S. government regarding the issue.
Nour News quoted the unnamed official as saying that the alleged American individuals are "prisoners who have been detained in accordance with the law and have enjoyed legal rights at all stages.”
The informed source also dismissed the use of the term "hostage” for American prisoners as a distortion of facts by the American side.
The Islamic Republic has denied allegations that it detains certain Western citizens as what Western officials and media outlets claim to be "hostages.”
The Iranian administration has repeatedly said the country’s Judiciary is an independent entity, rejecting as unacceptable any foreign meddling in the issuance of sentences by Iranian judges.