The U.S. special envoy for Iran who was suspended by the Biden administration reappeared online Thursday to boost a prisoner swap and payout to Iran, raising questions about his role in future policy.
"It’s only a 1st step & every day they continue to be robbed of their freedom is a day too many," Robert Malley, whose security clearances were revoked this spring, tweeted on Thursday after the United States and Iran reached a deal to free five U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran. Tehran in return is set to receive several jailed Iranians and access to $6 billion in frozen funds. Iran moved the prisoners to house arrest this week, a first step toward their release.
Malley added that the "welcome" news is "too long in coming" and that he knows his "colleagues won’t rest until they all return home."
Malley's Twitter bio says he is "on leave from State Department." The agency has deleted his biography from its website.
The diplomat is the subject of an investigation into alleged mishandling of classified information. His case moved from the State Department office responsible for diplomatic security to the FBI.
The five imprisoned Iranian-American dual citizens include businessmen Siamak Namazi, 51, and Emad Shargi, 58, as well as environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, who also has British nationality, said Jared Genser, a lawyer who represents Namazi. The two other U.S. citizens' identities have not been made public.
It is unclear how many Iranians will be freed, but Tehran will now have access to around $6 billion in assets frozen in South Korea.
Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo called it a "terrible deal."
"Releasing $6 billion to the butchers in Tehran just so American hostages can go to a different type of prison is a terrible deal," Pompeo tweeted. "Iran shouldn't profit from holding Americans hostage."