WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — Americans detained for years in Iran arrived home Tuesday, shouting “Freedom!” after being let go amid a politically risky deal that included $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.

The prisoners landed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with clapping and cheers heard in the predawn hours. Siamak Namazi, the first off the jet, paused for a moment, closed his eyes and took a deep breath before leaving the plane. Loved ones, some holding small American flags, enveloped them in hugs and exchanged greetings.

The former prisoners later posed for a group photograph with their families, calling out: “Freedom!”

The successful negotiations for the Americans' return brought President Joe Biden profuse thanks from their families but heat from Republican presidential rivals and other opponents regarding the financial arrangements. Biden held what the White House described as an emotional phone call with the families of the freed Americans after their release.

“Today, five innocent Americans who were imprisoned in Iran are finally coming home,” Biden said in a statement released as the plane landed in Doha, Qatar, on Monday.

Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, on hand for the United Nations General Assembly in New York, suggested the exchange could be “a step in the direction of a humanitarian action between us and America.”

However, tensions are almost certain to remain high between the U.S. and Iran, which are locked in disputes over Tehran’s nuclear program and other matters.

In addition to Siamak Namazi, the freed prisoner included Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz. The United States did not immediately identify the other two freed Americans.

Two of the imprisoned Americans' family members, Effie Namazi and Vida Tahbaz, who had been under travel bans in Iran, also were on the plane.

The $5.9 billion in cash released to Iran represents money South Korea owed Iran — but had not yet paid — for oil purchased before the U.S. imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.

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