Iran has arrested and detained a fourth U.S. national, further complicating the Biden administration’s efforts to secure an exchange of prisoners and lower tensions with Tehran.
The arrest of the American citizen, whose identity has not been disclosed, was confirmed by the global news platform Semafor on Friday. A spokesperson for the National Security Council said the administration is seeking the release of “four unjustly detained Americans” in Iran.
The other three Americans held by Iran are Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz, who have been accused of espionage and other security-related charges that U.S. officials say are baseless.
Last month, Washington and Tehran appeared to be on the verge of an agreement that would bring home the three Americans in exchange for Iran gaining limited access to billions of dollars in assets frozen abroad. However, the deal was reportedly stalled by Iran’s demand for more money and the release of more Iranians held in the U.S.
The latest arrest could further complicate the prisoner talks, as well as the broader negotiations over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. Iran has been ramping up its nuclear activities in violation of the deal, while demanding that the U.S. lift all sanctions imposed by Trump.
The U.S. and its European allies have urged Iran to return to full compliance with the deal and engage in direct talks with Washington, but Iran has refused to do so until the sanctions are removed.