Iran Prisoner Swap: Was it a good or bad deal? An expert weighs in

Sep 20, 2023, 9:00 PM

Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz were among the Americans believed to be involved in the...

Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz were among the Americans believed to be involved in the deal. (Siamak Namazi/Neda Shargi/Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley)

(Siamak Namazi/Neda Shargi/Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley)

SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this week, five Americans were freed from Iran in a prisoner swap with the United States. In turn, the United States released five Iranians who had been previously charged and convicted. 

But was it a good deal for America?

Jonathan Franks, president of LUCID Strategies and a crisis management consultant, discusses with KSL NewsRadio whether or not it was a good deal.


“I think what folks need to understand is this was a very complex deal from the start,” he said. “Because there were so many people on both sides in both countries that wanted there to be no deal for political reasons.”

The timing into the prisoner swap

What occurred to allow this to be the right time to make a prisoner exchange?

“So, there have been a lot of steps along the way,” Franks said. “Which would lead a reader to believe that we were building to this. . .. Why exactly the day it was? It’s beyond me. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s happen stance.”

What have the last two or three weeks been like, knowing there may not be an end point? Are the negotiations in person, with the use of technology or everything?

“I assume it’s probably everything,” Franks said. “And there are probably multiple touch points. Remember it’s fairly easy to meet with the Iranians in Europe.”

Franks goes on to say that such negotiations have been held in places such as hotel rooms and in more official locales. Additionally, Franks says it has also occurred in secrecy on multiple occasions. 

“So there always seems to be an ability to maintain that dialogue,” he said. “I assume much of it is by telephone and video conference at least these days.”

Was it a good deal?

“Without question,” Franks said. 

He says it’s naive to assume that countries holding individuals as bargaining chips are going to just open the jail and let them go.

He says it was a bitter pill for the United States.

“But at the end of the day, you got to decide what’s more important,” he said. “Like just something or human life.”

Franks says the number of Americans being detained in other countries around the world is a little more than 50. 

KSL at Night can be heard most weeknights from 7 to 9 p.m.

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Iran Prisoner Swap: Was it a good or bad deal? An expert weighs in